Jared McCann promoted as Penguins shake up top line again | TribLIVE.com

Jared McCann promoted as Penguins shake up top line again

Jonathan Bombulie
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins’ Jared McCann during practice Saturday, April 13, 2019 at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex.

When the Pittsburgh Penguins open the fourth game of their first-round series against the New York Islanders on Tuesday night, they will apparently be using their third different top-line combination.

Jared McCann was bumped up to the first line with Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel as the team took morning skate in preparation for Game 4. The Islanders can complete a four-game sweep with a victory.

The McCann-Crosby-Guentzel line found some success during the latter stages of the regular season.

“I just think we’re three skilled players that work well together,” McCann said. “There’s just that chemistry there. Obviously, we played a bit together during the regular season. We had some good games. Tonight, I feel like, is going to be one of them.”

Coach Mike Sullivan said having three different top-line combinations in four games is not unusual. The team has kept a pair together — Crosby and Guentzel in this case — and complemented it with different wingers all season long.

“We’ve moved other guys around those tandems throughout the course of the year based on circumstance, how well guys are playing, what we think the team needs at the time,” Sullivan said. “There are certain pairs or certain tandems that we think have had success. Based on certain situations, we try to make the best decisions. We’ll see how it goes.

“The great thing we have about our group is we have some flexibility. We have a lot of centers in the lineup. We’ve got guys that are comfortable on the wing. Some guys can play the off wing. I think there’s a lot of familiarity and a lot of flexibility.”

Given the circumstances, Crosby did not find the change jarring or surprising.

“I mean, whatever works,” Crosby said. “I think we’ve had some chances around the net, whether it’s power play or even strength, and they haven’t gone in. I think we’re comfortable and confident with any combination of guys. At this point, we’ve all played together. Just making sure everyone plays their game and we help each other and support each other and find a way to come up with a win.”

The second and third lines also looked different at morning skate. Bryan Rust moved to the left side of the second line with Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel. The third-line trio of Dominik Simon, Nick Bjugstad and Patric Hornqvist was reunited.

“I think we like to play with each other,” Hornqvist said. “We get a little chemistry going. We’ve got some confidence playing with each other, too. If we’re playing tonight, we know where we are on the ice. We always have three guys supporting each other down low in their end. If we turn it over, we work really hard to get it back and make sure we’re on top of them.”

There were no changes to the fourth line or defense corps from Game 3. Matt Murray will again start in net.

Follow the Pittsburgh Penguins all season long.

Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jonathan by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

Categories: Sports | Penguins
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.