Penguins Coach Mike Sullivan shuffled his lines for Game 6. His reassembly was well-reasoned. But it didn’t work.
Maybe no line combinations are going to work with the Penguins’ transition game crippled because of Kris Letang’s absence.
But here are the lines I would use for Game 7.
*Guentzel-Crosby-Rust. If Crosby wants speed, give him speed. This way, at least Hornqvist won’t knock Crosby’s head off.
*Kunitz-Malkin-Kessel. I hate Kunitz in the top six, but he gives Malkin and Kessel a physical presence. Use a bottom-six in Kunitz’s spot occasionally. Malkin and Kessel need the room that playing with the other provides. Just remember to shoot.
*Hagelin-Bonino-Hornqvist. A solid third line in the traditional sense.
*Sheary-Cullen-Kuhnhackl. I wouldn’t use that line much. I’d mostly save Cullen and Kuhnhackl for the PK.
Game 7 of a playoff series, however, is not a good time for an exhausted team to shorten its bench.
That conjures another idea: Should the Penguins change the way they play? Should the Penguins trap? Could they counter their obvious fatigue by slowing the game down and hitting Washington with counterattacks?
The players would be totally resistant to this. The notion is absolutely contrary to their identity. But if Lemieux and Co. could swallow their egos and trap to beat the Capitals in ’92, it’s worth considering in 2017.
Update: Here are the Penguins’ lines at today's practice:
Penguins forwards:— Jason Mackey (@JMackeyPG) May 9, 2017
Great minds think alike.