In my timesonline.com column, I give Coach Dan Bylsma’s Game 1 line machinations a thumbs-down despite the Penguins’ 4-3 victory.
Brian Gibbons isn’t good enough to play on Sidney Crosby’s line, and Beau Bennett is not a left wing or a third line-style player.
An alternate viewpoint is emerging, however.
Some feel – including Bylsma, apparently – that the Penguins need scoring depth spread among three lines, and that Bennett provides such on the third line. That idea came good in Wednesday’s third period when Bennett set up Brandon Sutter for the game-winning goal.
It’s a reasonable notion.
But I still think Bennett needs to play with Crosby and Chris Kunitz.
For the Penguins to prosper in these playoffs, Crosby’s line must produce. Must maximize. Neither Crosby nor Kunitz got an even-strength point Wednesday. That can’t continue. Crosby and Kunitz need more help than Gibbons can provide, especially if Bylsma is going to allow Columbus Coach Todd Richards to get his preferred matchup (Brandon Dubinsky vs. Crosby) every shift.
Bennett has the proper skill set to play with Crosby. He doesn’t have the proper skill set to play third line, or left wing.
It’s good that Bylsma adjusted. The Penguins won.
But what worked against Columbus might not work against Boston. It might not even work tomorrow night against Columbus.