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Thread: Dupuis' production creates pleasant dilemma

      
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    Default Dupuis' production creates pleasant dilemma

    Most NHL teams would be thrilled to boast a third-line winger who scores 20 goals during the regular season.

    The Penguins might have such a player on their fourth line when the postseason begins.

    Pascal Dupuis is having arguably the finest season of his career, already producing 16 goals while ranking among the team's finest defensive forwards. When everyone is healthy, though, his reward might be a spot on the fourth line.

    "There are a lot of great forwards on this team right now," Dupuis said. "A lot."

    Dupuis has scored three times in the four games since the Olympic break and is approaching his career-high of 20 tallies. The back injury to Bill Guerin has allowed Dupuis to play on the Penguins' top line, and it's no coincidence that he has thrived. Dupuis played well on Sidney Crosby's line two years ago, when he and Marian Hossa came here from Atlanta and immediately played on the top line.

    "If we do end up having a competition for playing time at forward," Dupuis said, "we'll have some guys who know how to win. It's a good thing."

    The dilemma for Dupuis to see more playing time is fairly simple. When healthy, Guerin will return to his spot on the top line with Crosby and Chris Kunitz.

    Alexei Ponikarovsky was acquired specifically to play on the second line with Evgeni Malkin, and the coaching staff seems to prefer keeping Ruslan Fedotenko on that line.

    The combination of Jordan Staal, Matt Cooke and Tyler Kennedy comprises arguably the NHL's finest third line and won't be altered.

    Still, look for Penguins coach Dan Bylsma to make sure Dupuis sees his share of ice time. Although the top three lines would appear set, Bylsma does not hesitate to generate different lines throughout the course of every game.

    "I like to change lines up and offer different looks," Bylsma said.

    There is no question that incorporating Dupuis will be a priority. Already a terrific penalty killer, Dupuis has added more offense to his game this season. He once scored 20 goals while playing for Minnesota and has a history of playing well in the playoffs.

    Dupuis acknowledged after Monday's practice that he might be playing the finest hockey of his career.

    "Especially since the break, I feel like I'm on top of my game," Dupuis said. "I definitely feel great."

    Bylsma likely won't be forced to decide on the regular 12 forwards until next week. It appears quite likely that Cooke will be suspended for multiple games following his controversial hit Sunday on Boston's Marc Savard.

    With Cooke probably out for a few games, Bylsma indicated that Guerin will return to the top line and Dupuis will join the third line in Cooke's spot.

    "That seems quite logical," Bylsma said.

    Bylsma will have a decision to make when his entire roster is healthy and suspension-free. Competing for spots on the fourth line come playoff time will be Dupuis, Mike Rupp, Max Talbot, Craig Adams and Eric Godard.

    There is little chance Godard will see action in the playoffs, but the other healthy scratch will be interesting. Dupuis and Rupp (12 goals) certainly won't be removed from the lineup, leaving the 12th spot in a competition between Adams and Talbot.

    If Adams is left on the fourth line in the playoffs -- and his penalty killing and ability to take faceoffs in the right circles makes this possible -- the Penguins' depth will never be on greater display.

    Dupuis, with perhaps more than 20 goals, would be on the fourth line, while Talbot, last year's Stanley Cup hero, could be in street clothes.

    "Lots of good players," Dupuis said. "And we feel like, the way we're playing now, we're going to be tough to beat. We've got that swagger, that feeling. The switch has been turned on."


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    Default Re: Dupuis' production creates pleasant dilemma

    Talbot going from Superstar to Super bench warmer

    Max's heart can't be questioned but whether he's really completely healthy can be. He's not looked at all like the same player he was last season

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    Default Re: Dupuis' production creates pleasant dilemma

    I thought he (Max) looked better this weekend but he very well could be the odd man out.

    One thing in Max's favor is faceoffs. At one point during Sundays game Steigy or Errey said he had won 10 of his last 16. If he does that, with our bad faceoff %, it could keep him active.

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    Default Re: Dupuis' production creates pleasant dilemma

    Quote Originally Posted by The Sodfather View Post
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    I thought he (Max) looked better this weekend but he very well could be the odd man out.

    One thing in Max's favor is faceoffs. At one point during Sundays game Steigy or Errey said he had won 10 of his last 16. If he does that, with our bad faceoff %, it could keep him active.
    I thought they were talking about Staal when they were mentioning the faceoffs?

    I agree that faceoffs are very important in the playoffs, so is penalty killing etc...

    It's gonna come down to Max and Adams and Adams kills more penalties. After Staal, Adams logs the most time per game for a forward on the PK and it's a full minute over Max which is actually a larger gap than it sounds. Adams is 5% better on faceoffs than Max but to be honest both stink

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    Default Re: Dupuis' production creates pleasant dilemma

    I thought it was Max but maybe you're right. I'm not that confident in my hearing to argue.

    It's nice to have enough depth that we can have this conversation because we all know there will be some injuires.

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    Default Re: Dupuis' production creates pleasant dilemma

    Quote Originally Posted by The Sodfather View Post
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    I thought it was Max but maybe you're right. I'm not that confident in my hearing to argue.

    It's nice to have enough depth that we can have this conversation because we all know there will be some injuires.
    I looked it up and I'm going to "assume" that ti was Staal they had mentioned, his faceoff % has really climbed in recent weeks up to 47.5% which is way higher than it had been most of the year. I wanna say he was hovering a little above Geno's 40% and Talbot is worse than that at 36.9%.

    Looking right now, It's tough to imagine Talbot not being the odd man out since Rupp and Adams have superior FO%.

    nice to see Staal's FO% climbing that high. Would be nice to have someone besides Sid at some point showcase an above average ability to win draws. If Staal is going to be the supposed "shutdown center" and the 3rd line be considered that, then winning draws is important.

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    Default Re: Dupuis' production creates pleasant dilemma

    Wasn't Talbot around 50% last year? Maybe that shoulder injury is hindering him a bit.

    Outside of Sid they all need to get better. Some of the percentages are just down right embarrassing.

    I thought Staal would be above 50% by now in his career. A little disppointed in that.

    Quite honestly Malkin doesn't look interested in faceoffs most of the time.

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