Today it appears that TK Rage is at an all time high. I don’t like TK. It’s not a secret.
You know what the rage is over though? No, not his poor performance this year in the wake of a breakout season. The rage is that during practice today, TK is on line with Sidney Crosby and Pascal Dupuis while Matt Cooke has been moved to the second line with Jordan Staal and Steve Sullivan. People are legitimately livid on Twitter today, but no one can provide an actual reason why this is bad.
The argument is that Cooke should stay with Crosby and TK move to the Staal line since Cooke has been productive with Sid since his return, tallying three 2-goal games. Cooke has a total of five 2-goal games this season.
Of those 3 games, Crosby had the primary assist on two of the goals. Know who had more? Tyler Kennedy. TK was the primary assist on 3 of those goals and had an assist on 4 total. Sid was secondary on 1. By this mathematical logic, It makes more sense to keep Kennedy and Cooke on the same line than to separate them. Cooke has 10 points total since Crosby returned to action.
Now all things being fair, Kennedy is showing signs of life with Sid centering him. He has 7 total points since March 15th, 3 of which were goals. Crosby was the primary assist on 2 of them, Cooke the secondary. His other goal was set up by Sully and Staal.
Yes, Kennedy’s style isn’t exactly what people are used to seeing alongside of Crosby. TK is a grinder. but he is trigger happy, which isn’t exactly paired with accuracy.
Also, consider that both of Sid’s goals since his return were assisted by Pascal Dupuis. Previously, Duper and Chris Kunitz were Sid’s linemates when he played on the first line. With Kuni stealing lives winging for Evgeni Malkin and James Neal, there is no need to move him at this time.
There are seven games left in the season. The anger over TK playing with Sid in PRACTICE and still in games is irrational. Sid plays well with just about everyone and if he can help TK out of his scoring slump and help him to take his time shooting, then what is the harm is leaving them on the same line just awhile longer? In 7 games, the difference between TK and Cooke is 3 points, not 30 (as people seem to believe). We already know how Sid plays with Dupuis (and mind you, Duper was having a successful season without Sid), so Duper and TK on line with Sid for tonight’s game isn’t the end of the world.
It makes sense to play with the lines now before the playoffs since the Pens finally have a full, healthy roster of forwards. Additionally, Head Coach Dan Bylsma has been line rolling during the games as well. The Pens are 5-1-1 since Sid returned. Bylsma has not kept strict lines during the games in that time and the scoring has been off the charts: 34 goals in 7 games.
What Bylsma has going here is clearly working. Crosby has 13 points in 7 games. So why are we worried about Tyler Kennedy winging for him? What’s more is that our next two games are against the Islanders, who are sitting in 14th place in the East, only 2 points ahead of Montreal. I’d say right now is the time to mess with lines before going into the last week of the season where the Pens will face the Flyers twice, the Bruins and the Rangers.
This team is stacked. I personally don’t care who is on Sid’s wing as long as the team is winning. But complaining because Cooke went to a different line in practice (with Staal whom he is used to centering mind you) is irrational.
Stats for TK, Cooke, Sid Last 7 Games
Assists on Cooke Goals:
2. Kennedy, Staal
3. Crosby, Kennedy
4. Kennedy, Crosby
6. Crosby, Martin
Assists on Kennedy Goals:
1. Sullivan, Staal
2. Crosby, Cooke
3. Crosby, Cooke
Assists on Crosby Goals:
1. Asham, Dupuis
2. Michalek, Dupuis
Lines at Practice Today