Penguins Kris Letang defends the Islanders Frans Nielsen during a game last week at the Consol Energy Center.
Justin: Why doesn't Dustin Jeffery get a chance to play. Last week Connor played over him, don't get it.
Kipa: I like Dustin Jeffrey, but why do the Penguins even have him? They call up WBS players and play Deryk Engelland at forward instead of Jeffrey. It just seems like a waste of a roster spot/cap space having him in the NHL if they won't use him.
Shelly Anderson: Every week we get a question like this, and this week we have two that are among the first of the questions. I wish I had a definitive answer. It's something of a mystery why Dustin Jeffrey has fallen so far out of favor, but it's clear that he has. Jeffrey has been emphatic for a long time that he came away from knee surgery earlier in his career with no lingering effects. If the Penguins â€“ who thought Jeffrey had a lot of promise just a couple of years ago â€“ believe otherwise, they are not saying so. It's possible that the coaches see Jeffrey as someone whose value would not be on the fourth line, but with injuries taking away key wingers, he is even being passed over for third-line duty for newcomers and call-ups from the American Hockey League. You would have to think Jeffrey might find regular work on another team, but there is no indication that he is seeking to leave. Last I asked him directly, and it was a year or two ago, he wanted to stay in the Penguins organization. <br/>
Triplez: I know I'm in the minority here but do you see any scenario where we could trade Letang? All we here is that the blue line is chocked full with talent, why not move letang? We would get a fortune for him. I love the grit that Derek egeland has but you know our 3rd and 4th lines need help when he's playing wing.
Shelly Anderson: I guess the best answer would be to look at it this way: The Penguins have a wealth of talent at center, so why not trade Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin and get a boatload in return? It's just not going to happen. The Penguins signed Kris Letang because they have identified him as a core player for the long term. He's 26, has already been a finalist for the Norris Trophy and has talent that can't easily be replicated with one replacement player. The only question with him is staying healthy enough to play full seasons. Third- and fourth-line players don't cost a Kris Letang, and don't forget there will be a trickle-down effect when injured wingers Beau Bennett and James Neal return.
Dan: What can the Pens do to get more production out of their 3rd and 4th lines?
Shelly Anderson: As mentioned above, one thing would be to get James Neal and Beau Bennett back from injury. That will strengthen all the lines. As Dave Molinari write this morning in the Post-Gazette, third-line center Brandon Sutter should be contributing more offensively. The good news is that it's not likely that the Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin lines will be shut down most nights.
Kipa: Any indication the Penguins want a new backup goalie?
Shelly Anderson: Not at this time. Two games is not much of a sample size for rookie backup Jeff Zatkoff, and only one of his two losses really could be hung on him. In another month or so, the Penguins might have a better idea about when/if Tomas Vokoun can come back. Having him return would be the best change at that spot.
Shelly Anderson: Well, this is unusual for a non-holiday Monday. We're looking for questions.
In the meantime, let's point out that the Penguins don't have an update on the injury to defenseman Rob Scuderi yet. While the team is in Carolina getting ready for a game tonight, Scuderi is in Pittsburgh getting evaluated. He got hurt Saturday when he was checked into the boards by Toronto's David Clarkson. It seemed that the injury was more related to the way Scuderi landed on the ice than the hit itself. After the game, he was wearing an orthopedic boot on his left foot and using crutches. Hate to guess, but it did not look like something that was going to clear up in a few days.
Kipa: Any idea what happened with Scuderi? I know he's being evaluated, but do you have a theory? The play looked similar to the Cooke/Karlsson incident, I thought.
Shelly Anderson: See above for part of the answer. The angles on the replay made it difficult to see exactly what happened, but I don't remember seeing Clarkson's skate blade near Scuderi's left foot or leg, so I doubt it's a cut, as Karlsson's was. Huge loss for whatever the duration for the Penguins.
Lee: What do you think of the hybrid icing rule?
Shelly Anderson: Don't have a problem with hit, simply because it seems to be doing what was intended -- cut the risk of potentially major injuries that can happen when two players go flying at full speed on a collision course toward the end boards. I do understand the naysayers such as Tanner Glass who don't want linesman having to make, at times, tough judgments, but overall it serves a purpose.
Pens n at: Shelly, We've seen some pretty good young talent in this past 3 game losing streak with the likes of Colorado and the NY Islanders. Do you think the Pens underestimated their youth and speed, or do you think we just are in a tough spot for the time being?
Shelly Anderson: I don't see this Penguins team as one that is prone to feeling superior and getting caught overlooking teams. That's not Sidney Crosby's nature, and he is a major factor in the team's demeanor.<br/>Agree, though, great young talent in the league right now. Olli Maatta certainly among that group.<br/>
Marcus: With Scuderi on the shelf, does it delay a decision on what the Pens do with the 8 defensemen they have on the roster? Who gets the bigger share of time while he's out, Engo or Borts?
Shelly Anderson: Just going by reports from the game-day skate in Raleigh, it looks a if Robert Bortuzzo will be in tonight and Deryk Engelland out. Engelland also has dressed as a fourth-line winger lately. Although the pairings are different, this is really a similar situation to the first nine games, when Kris Letang was out.
Bruce: When Neal and Bennett come back, will it be Bennett or Jussi on the line with Malkin and Neal, and how do you see the trickle effect on the third and fourth lines?
Shelly Anderson: I'm going to guess that Jussi Jokinen will remain on Evgeni Malkin's left wing, with James Neal assuming his tried-and-true role as Malkin's right wing. That would bump Beau Bennett to the third line. Jokinen and Malkin so far have had some chemistry. If that doesn't continue to develop, a Bennett-Malkin-Neal line is a possibility.<br/>Beyond that, I think the Penguins want to see Matt D'Agostini on the third line. If Bennett bumps Tanner Glass back to the fourth line, Glass would probably join Joe Vitale and Craig Adams, a fourth line we've seen a lot of.<br/><br/>
Guest: What do you think the chances are than Martin will replace Bylsma sometime this season?
Shelly Anderson: Don't see it happening.
Pens n at: Any chance Deryk Engelland will try out for the Steelers second Tightend position? It looks to be wide open...
Shelly Anderson: And he's a big, strong, athlete who is proving he's multi-talented....
Jack Reacher: Bylsma has shown what he does with a boatload of talent under the pressure of the NHL playoffs the last 3 or 4 years. I'm expecting the Olympics could really expose this to the world.
Shelly Anderson: Not a Dan fan, I see.
Kipa: Apologies if you've discussed this before, but why is Engelland playing forward anyway? The Penguins seem to have forwards capable of fourth-line duties, no?
Shelly Anderson: You would think, yes, but having him play fourth-line winger allows them to have him on the bench for his toughness. He's not playing many minutes at wing -- we've seen Malkin double-shift on the fourth line at times -- but, hey, he did score the other night.<br/>
Ross: Speaking of Martin, any word how he is doing? Getting along with the boys?
Shelly Anderson: He's a quiet sort, but I have seen no indication that he isn't fitting in.
Harold: Looks like Chuck Kobasew has disappeared lately. Are you surprised he continues to play alongside Malkin?
Shelly Anderson: Not a heck of a lot of options with Neal and Bennett -- the team's top two choices -- out. For now. Kobasew is living off of his camp and early-season spark.
Bruce: Do you think when Malkin is struggling to score goals or unsatisfied with his play, he sometimes puts too much pressure on himself to do something spectacular? I've never doubted his effort on the ice, but he seems to become flustered when things just aren't going his way on the ice and puts a lot of weight on his shoulders to break out.
Shelly Anderson: Analyzing Evgeni Malkin's mindset is always difficult, but there's no question that A) he sometimes tries to do too much, carry the weight of his line or the team by himself and B) he misses Neal.
Jack Reacher: Are there Russian players who aren't moody? And play hot and cold as a result?
Shelly Anderson: I have never been one to generalize or categorize players that way. Sergei Gonchar certainly does not fit any stereotype that might be attached to Russian players.
Marcus: It appears that untimely turnovers and failures to get the puck out of the defensive zone have been the primary reason for this 3 game skid, not to mention a lackluster PP. Reminds me a lot of the ECF against Boston and the Pens refusal to change philosophies...your thoughts?
Shelly Anderson: Agree with the first part of your post, but I don't see it related to philosophy. Those turnovers are a huge problem -- Sidney Crosby bobbled the puck a lot Saturday -- and that's not related to philosophy, just puckhandling gaffes.
Shelly Anderson: OK. That went by fast. Enjoy the week, and please join us next Monday.
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