Deryk Engelland played 12:23 in Game 2 vs. the New York Islanders, was minus-1 and took two bad penalties.
Simon Despres replaced Engelland in the lineup for Game 3. He was minus-2 and, many would say, was directly responsible for the Islanders’ first two goals.
Who plays Game 4 tonight?
Brooks Orpik is the preferred answer. But, if Orpik doesn’t yet return from his lower-body injury, the choices are:
*Engelland. The likely pick. Engelland seems too slow to play against the quick Islanders, but Coach Dan Bylsma trusts Engelland more than his other options.
*Despres. I’m shocked Despres got a playoff game at all. Bylsma has no faith, not yet.
*Robert Bortuzzo. Bortuzzo is no faster than Engelland, but he has size (6-4, 215), reach and is just as willing to fight as Engelland. Bortuzzo hasn’t yet suited up during the postseason but – after Games 2 and 3 – better the devil you don’t know.
*Dylan Reese. The longest of longshots. Reese has spent nearly the entire season with the Penguins’ minor-league affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. But Reese is a strong skater, and he played parts of three seasons (2009-12) with the Islanders. Familiarity doesn’t hurt.
Who is your choice? Vote, please, in the poll at left. (Reese isn't included because he just isn't a legitimate possibility.)
Bylsma needs to give whoever he selects a regular shift. Despres played just 6:12 in Game 3. The result was overwork for Kris Letang, Paul Martin and Mark Eaton, and lesser performance by all three. It’s better to be able to use all six defensemen.
Photos courtesy of GettyImages.