As the Penguins head into game two, they will likely be getting forward Carl Hagelin back from injury. This is a development that many analysts believe could swing the series in the Pens’ favor. Now, after winning game one, the Pens could have the Capitals teetering coming back to PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh.
With a lineup playing very as well as of late winning five of its six playoff games, it’s tough to pinpoint exactly who to take out of the lineup. Chris Kunitz returned in game one and spelled Carter Rowney from the lineup. Many expect Hagelin to replace a guy like Scott Wilson. But could you really blame head coach Mike Sullivan if he wanted to sit Conor Sheary in game two against Washington?
Let’s face it. Sheary has been borderline awful in the six games. He’s a -5 over the six games with a measly two goals and four points.
Much more was to be expected of the 23 goal scorer that we saw in the regular season once playoff time rolled around. He was so bad that Patric Hornqvist replaced him on the top line that consists of Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel. He played 12:21 in game one, his lowest total of the playoffs and still looked lost doing it.
He’s trying too hard. He’s forcing passes he doesn’t need to make. He’s turning the puck over at inoppotune times. I counted about three different Washington chances in game one that were made possible by a Sheary turnover.
That graphic and the tweet really says it all.
Sheary was absolutely horrific in game one and it’s coming at a time when Hagelin looks like he’s ready to return.
I’m not much of a Scott Wilson fan but I did like the way he played in the series’ first game. He seemed to really have some extra jump in his game and it could’ve been a result of knowing it could’ve been his final one.
Personally, I expect Sheary to be in the lineup Saturday night against Washington with Wilson out just due to pedigree and the success Sheary sustained in the regular season. He’ll have to really work if he wants to find his way back onto Crosby’s line. Another mediocre game like his first six and he might find himself watching from the press box.
Sullivan has done it before with guys like defensemen Brian Dumoulin and Ian Cole in the past to light a fire underneath of them. Of course, neither of those happened in the playoffs.
But Sullivan will want his best line up out there because the Penguins can really begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel if they win in this round. And he doesn’t want to be responsible for allowing the Capitals to get past the second round for the first time in the Alexander Ovechkin era.