Late last week, Barry Trotz retooled his lines, promoting Andre Burakovsky and dropping Alex Ovechkin to the third line. Trotz wanted to spread his offense around more and create difficult match-ups for the Penguins during Game Five. It worked, as all three of the Caps scoring lines recorded goals on Saturday.
On Monday, Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan countered. During the Penguins’ morning skate, the coach reunited Carl Hagelin, Nick Bonino, and Phil Kessel, the fabled HBK line, who enjoyed great success last season.
During his meeting with the press, Sullivan was coy if the line would play together during the game, saying only “there’s a possibility” it’d happen.
Pens lines: Sheary-Crosby-Hornqvist; Guentzel-Malkin-Rust; Hagelin-Bonino-Kessel; Kunitz-Cullen-Wilson/Kuhnhackl.
— Tom Gulitti (@TomGulittiNHL) May 8, 2017
“If we could find some of that scoring touch we had in the playoffs last year, we’d be happy,” Nick Bonino said according to Yahoo’s Greg Wyshynski.
The HBK line rose to fame late in the 2016 season, just before they rode a PDO wave (shooting 9.6 percent) to a Stanley Cup with 15 goals (many of which were scored against the Caps in their second round series).
After a poor showing early in the 2016-17 regular season, Penguins coach Mike Sullivan split up the line. They’ve not played a significant amount together in this postseason.
|TOI||SA%||PIT goals||Opp goals|
Hockeyviz.com’s “with or without you” visualization tells us that these players have not done well together this year, but if they can finish in Game Six, that’s all that matters.
Headline image: Bruce Bennett
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