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Penguins ‘Scout Options’: Pettersson, Kapanen Headline Shakeup

Penguins ‘Scout Options’: Pettersson, Kapanen Headline Shakeup

With losses come changes. The losses for the Pittsburgh Penguins stretch back quite a bit over the past month, so they are plentiful changes in staff deployment Tuesday had been planned.

“We’re trying to find some combinations that we think will work for us, and so we’re exploring different options,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said Tuesday after the team practiced at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex.

With a seven-game losing skid (0-6-1) going into Wednesday’s game against the rival Capitals in Washington, the Penguins shuffled virtually all of their combinations outside of the top two offensive lines.

As in, those watching Wednesday might see some good faith.

Two moves stood out: Marcus Pettersson moving up to defensive top alongside Kris Letang, and winger Kasperi Kapanen dropping to a fifth line, which could mean a move from the third line or even a twist like a healthy scratch.

Pettersson had been skating primarily with Jeff Petry, but he seemed excited for the chance to line up alongside Letang for a game.

“It’s a privilege to play with him. It’s going to be a lot of fun,” Pettersson said. “He has such an offensive edge, and I know that. I’m just trying to be stable with him.”

It seems to be a payoff for Pettersson, who even though it’s only been a month and despite the recent losses, looks to be having one of his best seasons yet.

“I think I’ve played well to start the year,” he said.

Letang would agree.

“He’s been playing really well this year,” de Pettersson said. “He’s a good two-way player.”

One that is best known for his defensive side, which could be crucial alongside Letang. Pettersson said the key will be communication between the two, who haven’t spent much time together over the years.

Petry’s new partner is PO Joseph, with Dumoulin moving into a spot with Jan Rutta.

Petry also noted that “the communication has to be there” with a new partner.

Dumoulin, meanwhile, has struggled to match last season, something Sullivan alluded to.

“We all have high expectations for ‘Dumo,'” Sullivan said. “He is a great player. He is a great professional. He’s been a great Pittsburgh Penguin for a long time.

“There’s no doubt I know he will.”

Rutta, asked about playing with Dumoulin, first took a broad view: “Hopefully in a winning way?” he joked, adding: “That’s what we all want, right? On a losing streak, you might just change a few things to get a better result.”

Among the forwards, the Penguins had enough players to go with five full lines in practice.

This included one where all three guys wore white jerseys: Sam Poulin, Teddy Blueger and Kapanen.

Blueger remains on LTIR, Poulin is a recent reminder and Kapanen struggled offensively to get by last season. Sullivan, asked if the trio wearing white shirts indicated something about their status, such as an illness or injury, said it was simply logistical with five lines.

“They all practiced at full capacity,” Sullivan said, adding some intrigue about Kapanen specifically.

Kapanen has played frequently on the third line with center Jeff Carter, who appears poised to return after missing the past three games with an unspecified injury.

Carter sounded as if a return Wednesday was a possibility.

“I feel good,” he said. “It was good to get back into full training and do some racing and everything that goes on.”

Carter, the senior member of the roster at 37, understands the reason for so many changes.

“You look at our stretch where we’re at right now, sometimes you’ve got to mix things up a little bit and try to build some chemistry in different spots,” Carter said. “Hopefully, we can do it (Wednesday).”

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