Saturday, March 10, 2012

#245: Shuffling the Deck

---SSL Broadcast #84---

Some worry that the return of Sidney Crosby would actually disrupt the Pittsburgh Penguins' mojo.

Others contend that nothing bad at all could come from the face of the Penguins (and the NHL) returning to action.

Crosby, while cleared for contact (again), is not a lock to play tomorrow against the Boston Bruins - the same team against whom he was re-injured.

Some concern among fans has been that if and when Crosby returns, he'll steal Chris Kunitz off the wildly successful Evgeni Malkin/James Neal line, and potentially unravel the chemistry that the trio has had for much of the year. The broadcasters, meanwhile, particularly Bob Grove and Phil Bourque of the Penguins Radio Network, believe that Crosby's return cannot be a negative in any way.

Fortunately, the team finds itself in a perfect position to have Crosby come back and meddle with the lines.

The Malkin/Neal/Kunitz line has come back to earth for the time being, replaced by the Jordan Staal/Pascal Dupuis/Steve Sullivan line has begun to shine. With that being the case, should Crosby return this week, this would be the time to go ahead and pair Crosby and Kunitz. I'd throw Matt Cooke on the Crosby line (because he would be inclined to stand up for his captain if he's disrespected) and maybe Tyler Kennedy on the top line - the goal being to keep Staal/Dupuis/Sullivan together while they're still producing. Then, do a little bit of swapping once they come back to Earth.

Oh, and did I mention that Crosby's line would be the second line in my little world? Yup. The Captain on Line 2. At least to start.

With the Penguins as of this writing being only 4 points back to within the New York Rangers, Malkin must continue to lead the charge for the time being.

On the latest episode:

- The Pittsburgh Power win the season debut under the shadow of an AFL strike.

- Pitt loses its final chance to make the NCAA tourney, but will likely receive an invite to the NIT.

- Pirate outfielder Starling Marte should make club if he continues to perform and Nate McClouth does not.

- Peyton Manning sweepstakes and New Orleans Saints' "bounty-gate."



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