Penguins' third line will have new look
Jordan Staal, Matt Cooke and Tyler Kennedy once formed one of hockey's finest third lines.
Now that they're gone, what remains? A new philosophy, for starters.
Center Brandon Sutter is the only given to begin the season on the third line, and no matter who plays with him, the line likely will rely on finesse.
“The game has changed,” newly acquired right wing Matt D'Agostini said. “The game is all about speed and skating.”
D'Agostini likely will be given an opportunity to play on the third line. He skated there Thursday with Sutter and left winger Jussi Jokinen.
Sutter and Jokinen have a history of playing together in Carolina, but neither has a reputation of being physical like Cooke. And that's OK, D'Agostini, said.
“If you're playing well defensively and if you have a presence offensively,” he said, “then you're going to be fine on a third line. That's really all you need to do, and I know that's something the guys here can do. You can be a good third line as long as you can skate, get the puck behind the defense and go to work. If you've got the puck, you're a good third line.”
There are several candidates to play on the third line. Sutter is a lock at center, and it appears either Jokinen or Beau Bennett will play on his left side.
Right wing is up in the air.
Winger Tanner Glass, one of the few Penguins known for his physical style, said he would welcome an opportunity. Besides D'Agostini, Dustin Jeffrey, Harry Zolnierczyk, Adam Payerl and Jayson Megna could get a look, and Joe Vitale and Craig Adams seem likely to begin on the fourth line.
“We definitely lost a couple of bangers in TK and Cookie,” Vitale said. “But we still just have so many good players on this team. The fourth line could end up being really physical, so I don't know that the third line needs to have that to be successful.”
Coach Dan Bylsma acknowledged that the third line will have a significantly different look. Wingers like Cooke, Kennedy, and Brenden Morrow spent time on the third unit last spring, and Bylsma realizes the makeup of this team is different.
“There is competition on that (line),” Bylsma said. “The players that end up on that line are probably going to shape up in a different way. That (Sutter, D'Agostini and Jokinen) would not be a crash-and-bang line. It wouldn't be a matchup, checking kind of line. We have other players who can be used in that kind of role. We have guys like Craig Adams and Tanner Glass who can be effective in that role.”
Bylsma didn't sound concerned about the third line being less physical.
“There are guys who can add a different element to our third line,” he said. “We'll look for crash and bang elsewhere.”
Sutter, who said his game should benefit from having a full training camp to better familiarize himself with Bylsma's system, felt comfortable with Jokinen and D'Agostini.
“I think we're good two-way players, and we play similar styles,” Sutter said. “It felt pretty good. I think we all complement one another pretty well.”
Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @JoshYohe_Trib.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com 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.
- Hollidaysburg native Lafferty relishing his chance with Penguins
- Q&A: New coach Johnston feeling at home with Penguins
- Penguins notebook: Kapanen shines in scrimmage
- Penguins sign Despres to 2-year deal
- Recchi rejoins Pens, this time as a coach
- Penguins notebook: Offseason extensions unlikely for Fleury, Martin
- Stockpiling talented forwards becomes a priority for Penguins
- Pens hope to reach long-term deal with Brandon Sutter
- New Penguins winger Spaling files for arbitration
- Despite management change, familiarity reigns for Penguins prospects