After Saturday’s loss at D.C., Penguins fans (and some media) want Coach Mike Sullivan to change his lineup, or to change the dispensation of playing time. For instance: SCRATCH LETANG! or PLAY LETANG LESS!
Such advice is, indeed, delivered in all caps.
But, for example’s sake, let’s look at the notion of altering Kris Letang’s role.
Scratching Letang would be outright silly, and isn’t being considered at all. Who would play in his place, Matt Hunwick? Andrey Pedan?
If you play Letang less, who absorbs those minutes, and at what cost to their performance? Chad Ruhwedel hasn't exactly sparkled, and might not be cut out to skate 20 minutes or more.
Meantime, Letang usually thrives on more ice. His game might suffer if his playing time is cut back.
Letang made a baffling mistake on Saturday, and it gifted Washington's Evgeny Kuznetsov a game-tying breakaway goal early in the third period.
But you don’t play Letang less to exact revenge on behalf of angry fans.
You keep Letang in his usual role and give him his usual minutes, and hope he comes good. Like Letang has so many times in the past.
The only move that should be considered is dropping Dominik Simon down (or out of) the lineup.
Simon simply isn’t good enough to play with Sidney Crosby. Put Patric Hornqvist back in that spot. If you (understandably) want Hornqvist to stay with Evgeni Malkin, then put Bryan Rust on Sid’s right wing.
Not that Crosby has had much trouble producing: Nine goals and 11 assists in 11 playoff games. The Penguins captain has re-emphasized in this postseason that he is still the world’s best hockey player.