ShareThis Page

Penguins' Kennedy hopes to reverse scoring slump

| Friday, Jan. 11, 2013, 11:54 p.m.
The Penguins' Tyler Kennedy during practice at Consol Energy Center Jan. 8, 2013.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Tyler Kennedy during practice at Consol Energy Center Jan. 8, 2013. Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review

Tyler Kennedy is a man of few words and few passes. Put him on a sheet of ice with four open teammates, and chances are excellent he'll still seek out that trademark whirling wrister from the left circle.

All of which is fine, except when he's a man of few goals.

That, of course, is precisely the fate that befell him the last time the Penguins played: He had just 11 goals and 22 assists in 60 games, limited by a concussion and high ankle sprain. That was roughly half his career-high 21 goals of 2010-11.

“It was a tough year, for sure,” Kennedy said Friday after the team's informal skate at Southpointe. “Hopefully I can put it behind me.”

Small wonder. Nothing worked, not even gunning. He needed 195 shots to squeeze out those 11 goals, meaning it took him 17.7 tries before scoring.

For point of unfair comparison, Evgeni Malkin's 50 goals came on 339 shots, or once every 6.8 tries.

“All you can try to do is try to put the puck in the back of the net,” Kennedy said.

Maybe that will resume soon.

Dan Bylsma hasn't said it, but Kennedy is the default candidate to join Malkin and James Neal on the second line that, given its pedigree with a reigning MVP and 40-goal sniper, rates second only because Sidney Crosby is on the first.

Kennedy will have to beat out Eric Tangradi and Beau Bennett, but that comes in the context of the Penguins not having much room to experiment within the confines of a 48-game schedule.

“That would be amazing, being out there with those two great players,” he said. “But you know, I'm going to come in and compete just how I would if there wasn't a spot there. Wherever I play, I'm happy.”

Chris Kunitz skated with Malkin and Neal most of last season, bringing vision, creativity and instinct to the line, while Malkin and Neal provided the finish.

So how might that be a fit for Kennedy, who has made a living off the finish?

“I think I'd fit in pretty well,” he said. “It might take a little time, but I know I can keep up with them, and I feel like I can make plays, too. I'm a pretty confident player. I've just got to believe in myself and be myself.”

“You don't have to change anything,” Kunitz said. “Our top two centermen are elite guys. If you start changing how you play, they're not going to know where you're going. You just need to stick to your own basics. Our centers will always reward you for being in position.”

Even if Kennedy seals the spot, it's no guarantee he'll last even the opening game there. Bylsma's tentative plan is to substitute that winger as needed “based on whether we're up or not.” If the Penguins hold a late lead, a defensive ace would step in.

Don't expect Kennedy to complain either way.

“No matter how it turns out, I feel pretty good right now,” he said. “A good training camp, I think, and I'll be ready to rock.”

With quite the accompaniment.

Dejan Kovacevic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @Dejan_Kovacevic.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.