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Iginla, Bylsma discuss his power-play usage

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

OTTAWA — The Penguins’ practice didn’t reveal lines, but a couple things became eminently clear: Jussi Jokinen will be back for Game 4 tomorrow. Brenden Morrow left the session early and might not play. And Dan Bylsma still doesn’t have a compelling reason for not using Jarome Iginla on the power-play point.

At least not with the first team. Iginla and Paul Martin worked points with the No. 2 unit.

I asked Iginla his thoughts on that …

And I asked Bylsma a few minutes later for his …

I appreciate the thought process, but that strikes me as a little more fear-driven than necessary for a power play built of such world-class talent. You don’t adjust for an opponent when you’re that loaded.

Besides, even if the Senators pressure the points — and they do — that’s what you want. You want to have Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin benefiting from more room to work down low.

Anyway, I’m working on something else entirely for tomorrow’s column. Just wanted to kind of follow up on all this for you, given what I wrote this morning.

Author: Dejan Kovacevic

Dejan Kovacevic, a lifelong Pittsburgher, is an award-winning sports columnist for Trib Total Media covering the Steelers, Penguins, Pirates, Pitt and, recently, his fourth Olympics in Sochi, Russia. He also appears on WPXI-TV's 'Subway Final Word’ and hosts a weekly show on TribLIVE Radio. For 2011, he was named one of the country's top four columnists by the AP Sports Editors. For 2012, he was named one of the country's top three columnists by the National Headliners. For 2013, he was named the state's top columnist by the Keystone Press Awards and top columnist in Western Pennsylvania by the Golden Quills.


  1. Billy says:

    Good to see someone finally challenging Bylsma. He has the stuff to become an elite coach, but some decisions are maddening and will prevent him from attaining that status.

  2. theplanisworking says:

    DK, the column this morning was gold.
    Glad to see you address it.

    Judging by the over 500!!! comments it generated, I would say you did good.

    Thank you for that.

  3. aTl1705 says:

    Nice column. Bylsma reminds me so much of Tomlin, they’re great in the off season or film room, but not so much adjusting on the fly.

  4. JohninOshkosh says:

    This was good stuff.

    Were holding the camera during that Bylsma question ? Seemed pretty steady-a fine static shot.

    Really respect the Coach’s demeanor and civility.

  5. john says:

    Clearly, the inspired decision to move Iginla to RW and Neal to LW will pay huge dividends. How can anyone think otherwise about a move to make Iginla more comfortable even if it means moving Neal to a spot where Malkin is less familiar and comfortable working with him? I saw someone refer to that ‘coaching’ as rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic: You change the appearance on a micro level when what Malkin and Neal really need on a macro level is a winger with a lot more jam and puck retrieval skills.

    By the way, anyone else notice that the new top two lines are LESS productive at even strength per period than what the Penguins started the series with? Love to see Dejan ask Bylsma about THAT.

    DK: I do so enjoy question suggestions. Please, more!

  6. john says:

    As for Iginla on the powerplay, it makes perfect sense. He could get pressured, so take him off the top unit. For that matter, why not take Malkin off too? After all, he could get pressured and cough up the puck.

    By the way, isn’t it curious how the Pens PP has performed since Dan Bylsma tweaked it after a thoroughly unproductive 2 for 4 showing in game one?

  7. For the life of me I just can’t understand what Bylsma’s thought process is. You nailed it, DK, “You don’t adjust for an opponent when you’re that loaded.”

    He has *so much talent to work with that I fear he’s over thinking things at times.

  8. Bizrow says:

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  9. john says:

    O’k Dejan, here’s a question suggestion: Throughout his career, Evgeni Malkin has enjoyed his greatest success when he has a winger who is an aggressive forechecker with a lot of jam because a player like that helps give Malkin the extra half second he needs to exploit a defense. Max Talbot was that guy in 2009. Chris Kunitz was that guy last year. This year, the only time he and James Neal enjoyed comparable success was with Chris Kunitz, the one game they played with Morrow, and the two games they played with Beau Bennett. Why then does Jerome Iginla play with Malkin and Neal. No matter who lines up on what wing, the line lacks the type of player Malkin needs in a linemate. Is it because what’s ‘right’ for Iginla (being in the top six) is more important to the Pens cup chances than what is ‘best’ for Malkin (having that forechecker with jam on one wing)?

  10. john says:

    Or another . . .

    The Penguins are 4-0 in the playoffs when the top two lines for most of the games are Dupuis-Crosby-Iginla and Kunitz-Malkin-Neal. They are 2-3 in the playoffs when the top two lines are Kunitz-Crosby-Dupuis and Malkin with Iginla and Neal. Is this a coincidence?

    P.S.: Can’t speak for anyone else, but the new, improved, irreverent Dejan cracks me up.

    DK: I’ll take irreverent over irrelevant.

    (Was that irreverent, too?)

  11. Paperboy says:

    I was surprisingly satisfied with that answer from coach Bylsma. For all the heat he gets from fans about not making adjustments and being a poor “in-game” coach, this change seems to make sense on the surface. If their PK takes away Iginla’s ability to fire that one-timer, then counteract that with something that is more likely to work. If that means someone else, so be it. I have no problems there. However, I will concede that when you have the man advantage, you should be dictating play and forcing the 4 PK’ers to be playing YOUR game.

    DK – remind me again on where I can snag an avatar for my little handle here. Thanks!

  12. theplanisworking says:

  13. Bizrow says:

    I dunno, last took spelling in like maybe 1962?

    And there is no “I before E”, that’s about all I remember ;-)

  14. Bizrow says:

    Oh, yeah, except after “C”

  15. cherokee23 says:

    It seems wrong to nitpick when the team won 1st round 4-2 and is ahead 2-1 in the 2nd……BUT…….something just seems off with this team and I can’t put a finger on it. Are things OK in the locker room? Neal looks lost, Morrow & Sutter have been hard to notice. Also Murray to some degree. I dunno what it is. I watched the Wings/Hawks last night and saw passion and intensity, while it seems our games have been sorely lacking in that department. It seems Pens were playing better “playoff hockey” the last few weeks of the season than they are now in the actual playoffs. Anybody else feel this way?

  16. djh says:

    Tulsa, OK

    Normally, I just read the blog/columns/everything else that DK does, but I feel so guilty every time seeing OK as one of the 5 missing states.

    Better dive in.

    DK: Thank you, and hope all is safe with you and yours.

  17. Joni says:

    Checking to see if my gravatar works…

  18. Joni says:

    Apparently not! I’ll keep working on it.

    DK: It’s there, Joni. I see it.

  19. treakle1 says:

    More messing around with my gravatar…

  20. treakle1 says:

    Thanks, DK!
    I will stop messing around now.

  21. Officer Mancuso says:

    “Anyway, I’m working on something else entirely for tomorrow’s column.” I’m citing you for teasing. If that column’s not as intriguing as the tease, I’ll issue a bench warrant soliciting 1,000 word PBC axe-grinding tirades in response to anything you write.

  22. Boise Bucco says:

    I read the column and loved it, but I didn’t get a chance to give a response this morning;

    I always thought that, between Neal, Kunitz and Iginla, that Iginla would be the most defensively-responsible winger. It would make sense to me to put him on the second Power Play just in case the first unit doesn’t score. When whomever gets out of the opposition’s box, they’re sure to have a little oomph in their step from just killing the Pens’ PP, so it would make sense (to me, at least) to have defensively-responsible players, as well as offensively-capable players like Iginla and Dupuis on the second unit.

    I have a really good tinfoil-hat response to why Iggy’s not on Crosby’s line too–maybe Bylsma doesn’t want to put the lineup “on tape” (haha I KNOW). But for real, They know that Kunitz-Malkin-Neal can absolutely KILL, and Dupuis-Crosby-Iginla would be amazing too. Maybe he’s hip-pocketing it for the Conference Finals. Just a thought.

  23. DJ says:


  24. Paul says:

    Leaving a comment for the first time just so I can I’m glad Dejan seems to finally be realizing at least one of the reasons that makes Bylsma a not-very-good coach. He has no idea how to manage players and lines. I was flabbergasted that he put Iginla back on Malkin’s line. I understand you have to appease your stars (i.e. Crosby in this case) to some extent, but not when it such a glaring mistake as it is with Iginla.

  25. SD says:

    I haven’t posted in a while, but thought I’d jump in. Could it be since Sid is wearing the shield, he just can’t see the pucks at his feet as well as he’d like to? And if so, he might feel more comfortable with 2 guys he knows well and knows where they will be? Maybe when he gets the shield off, Dan will switch Iggy up to his line? Just a thought.

    And speaking of the shield, when is he getting rid of it? I think he was hit on March 30, so we are approaching the 2 month mark.

  26. Jude says:

    Ireland – Dublin.

  27. Bizrow says:

    Welcome and if I may say so, the whole nation dittos what our leader says

  28. DJ says:

    Bizarre goal given up by Lundqvist late. He saw the puck and reacted as if it had already gone it and back out. Better to tip it away and not chance it. Would have liked to have seen the Rangers take one, the better to drag out that series and wear on their players as well.

  29. dwf says:

    What kind of answer was that from DD???? Dude just doesn’t get it! Iginla has, I’m sure, faced a team that has used this same technique in the past? In the words of DK, “Come on, Man!” DD, you are doing your very best to screw these playoffs UP! Here is an idea for you, why don’t you just let the players do what they are good at?

  30. Kevin says:

    cant believe no one else replied to this comment… people been saying all postseason about Bylsma’s inability to adjust. Now, we’re asking him to not adjust or overthink things?

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