If I were Michel Therrien, and I knew what I know right now, this is how my lines would shape up for the start of the 2008-2009 season.
Dupuis – Crosby – Satan
There’s no need to explain why Sidney Crosby if the first line center, but there is a need for his linemates.
Satan is a great threat, and he is going to have better numbers playing with Crosby than he has in the past few seasons. He will compliment Sid well, in a similar way that Sykora and Malkin compliment each other.
These two have the potential to do great things, and this is exactly why Shero went out and got Satan. Crosby will have a capable winger to compliment him, and vice versa for a full season (cross your fingers – we all should pray that injuries don’t plague this team like they did last season).
Finally, Dupuis adds good speed to the line. Also, he is used to playing with Crosby. They have some familiarity, and I think him playing with Sid gives him the potential to score 20 or more goals. He should net at least 15 on this line easily (He scored 10 in Atlanta, give the man some credit!).
The combination of a hustle guy in Dupuis, sniper in Satan and play maker in Crosby provides the line with everything that can make it a tough trio to defend.
Fedotenko – Malkin – Sykora
Malkin and Sykora stay together. There was never a question on that. They played a tremendous game together throughout the regular season last year, and also put up good numbers in the first three rounds of the playoffs.
I expect nothing less from the two, but maybe a little more.
Adding Fedotenko gives the line the ability to play a very similar game as they did last season. He is a big body, and should be able to clean up around the net.
Fedotenko has the ability to score 20 goals any season. Giving him two world class players to skate alongside makes it a guarantee.
Once again, this line offers several different dimensions just as the first line. Hopefully they can compliment each other and make me look like a genius.
Pesonen – Staal – Kennedy
This line was tough to decide on. Part of me really wanted to move Jordan Staal to the left wing on the second line. I still think that might happen during the season.
The problem is, if you move him, then Max moves to the third line and you don’t have a capable center for the fourth line. I’m not sure anyone in Wilkes-Barre will be ready at the beginning of the year. This way we are not forcing anyone in to a role they are not ready for.
However, if Jeff Taffe signs with the Pens this all will probably change for me. Kris Beech doesn’t give me a sense of security, but I do believe Jeff Taffe can play a season on the fourth line.
Also, my hopes are that Janne Pesonen is the real deal and that he is in fact ready for the National Hockey League. His stats have drastically improved in his last few seasons, which makes me think this is his time. I’m not going to waste his talent on the fourth line – it’s his time to prove himself.
Tyler Kennedy rounds out the third line. He and Staal have played together, and as you might be able to tell familiarity and chemistry are huge in my mind.
The line should again be tough to defend because of its speed. Scouts rave about Pesonen’s speed. Tyler Kennedy impressed all the doubters before the playoffs by showing he is capable of handling that kind of environment. He got through it because he was just flat out faster than most players on the ice.
And as many of you are running through Vanilla Ice or M.C. Hammer lyrics I ask that you look at those three lines and try to find a more balanced and threatening team offensively. There is no such team in the Eastern Conference.
Cooke – Talbot – Godard
Moving to the fourth and final line, try and tell me you’d like to go up against the three men listed above. If you do, you’re lying.
All three have the ability to get under opponent’s skin. They also can back up their talk.
I’m not sure I like Cooke on the fourth line, but given the rest of the player talent on the Pens I don’t believe it is right to place him anywhere else. I believe he could net 10 to 12 goals on another line, but there are other men that can do more and they deserve to see more ice time.
Also, we rarely saw Jarkko Ruutu playing with Sid or Malkin. If Cooke is Ruutu’s replacement, then this is where he fits.
I know we are far away from the opener in Stockholm, Sweden on October 4 against Ruutu and the Senators. However, this passes the time.
There are only 75 days until the 2008-2009 season starts, and it is never too early to start preparing.
In the coming days there is a possibility that the Penguins will sign Jeff Taffe. If/when that happens, I’ll may be coming out with ‘Just Call Me Coach Therrien Part Deux.’ Oddly enough, his presence changes things around a lot as far as the lines go.
Until then, enjoy and let me know what you think. I plan on coming out with defensive pairings in the coming days, as well as why experience is not a crutch for losing in the playoffs anymore for the Pens.