Playoff Time is Here!!! ...because it's the Cup...
Great start to the playoffs with a convincing 5-0 win, even without Sid and Orpik in the lineup, plus losing Neal and Jokinen during the game. The good news is that Sid, Orpik, and Jokinen all practiced on regular lines this morning. The bad news is that Neal did not participate at all in the morning skate. Martin missed only the rushes early on in practice, but participated fully later, so no additional worries (I hope). For what it's worth, here were the pairing for the rushes this morning:
Personally, I would prefer to keep Kunitz with Malkin and Neal (when healthy). I was at CONSOL for the final regular season game against Carolina, and that line was once again electric like they were a year ago when Sid was out for an extended period. Yeah, I realize that Kunitz and Dupuis have been awesome with Crosby this season, but I just really like that Kunitz-Malkin-Neal line, and I want to see some Olympics-like magic between Sid and Iggy on the same line again. I like how Jokinen is versatile enough to fill in a top line center role when Sid out, and can also fill in as a 4th line center when Sid's back...very Dupuis-like, and Pascal has been the man for us (leading the NHL in plus-minus). I love what Beau Bennett brings to the table, so I am glad the coaches are giving him an opportunity out there over the more experienced Tyler Kennedy. Morrow's been rock solid, as has been Sutter. This team is truly built for the playoffs.
Here is what my lines would look like when everyone is healthy:
(with Glass, Kennedy, Jeffrey, and Vitale in reserve)
(with Engelland, Depres, and Bortuzzo in reserve)