Penguins Notebook: Therrien switches lines partly to bolster defense
Share with others:
Despite a three-game winning streak, Penguins coach Michel Therrien scrambled his forward line combinations between Tuesday's 1-0 victory against the New York Rangers and the start of last night's game against Toronto.
But not necessarily for the reasons one might expect.
Although the Penguins had allowed just two goals in their previous two wins, the coach explained yesterday that the Therrien shuffle is as much about defense as it is about finding offensive chemistry.
"You've got to find a balance," he said.
"Last week, we were giving up a lot of goals. There were times we were finding ways to win those run-and-gun games, but you know down the road that's not the way to success.
"We want to approach it a lot better defensively."
Therrien said he wasn't pointing specifically to goaltending, or even necessarily the defensemen. He's looking for tight, responsible play from everyone.
"Our defensive game is getting a lot better," he said. "We try to change lines to try to find that balance between playing well defensively and, in the meantime, try to create a little bit more offensively. That's the reason."
Rookie shaking like a Leaf
Toronto center Jiri Tlusty made his NHL debut last night. As with most players, it was a momentous occasion for him.
He told reporters he was nervous, and reporters passed that along to Maple Leafs coach Paul Maurice.
"Actually, I don't mind new guys being a little bit nervous or jumpy," Maurice said.
"Hey, be nervous. You should be nervous. It's your first game. You worked your entire life to get here. Soak it all up. Let the nerves fire up."
Tlusty, 19, Toronto's first-round draft pick in 2006, got the call from general manager John Ferguson at 1 a.m. Wednesday, hours after the Maple Leafs fell to the Atlanta Thrashers, 5-4, in a shootout.
He said he was too excited to get back to sleep.
Fleury takes start in stride
No one on the team tip-toed around Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury when he struggled during the first couple of weeks of the season.
Nor did his teammates notice Fleury displaying a lot of frustration off the ice.
"I don't see a huge difference," team captain Sidney Crosby said.
"Out there on the ice, I'm sure he's having a lot more fun [since he's playing better].
"But it's like anything -- when you're on a team, we're all used to it. Everybody has tough spans. We're all used to that, and we all help each other."
After the Maple Leafs' 3-4-3 start, with eight of those 10 games at home, the Toronto Sun this week began calling for Ferguson to be fired. ... The Penguins scratched winger Georges Laraque (groin) and defenseman Alain Nasreddine. Toronto scratches were defensemen Bryan McCabe (groin) and Staffan Kronwall and winger Wade Belak. ...The Penguins will have a "Score Against Hunger" food drive Nov. 7 when they play host to Philadelphia. Fans who bring non-perishable food or a cash donation will be eligible to win autographed team memorabilia.
First Published October 26, 2007 12:00 am