Mar 6, 2014; San Jose, CA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins center Marcel Goc (57) reacts on the ground against the San Jose Sharks during the second period at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Pens' Forward Marcel Goc is Third-Line Worthy

 

Newly acquired forward Marcel Goc played exceptionally last night in his first game donning a Penguins’ sweater.

Taking the place of Joe Vitale as the team’s fourth-line center, Goc helped the final pairing generate multiple scoring chances and was efficient in the face-off circle, winning 54-percent of his draws.

Collecting an assist on defenseman Olli Maatta’s goal, which was the first tally of the game, Goc finished the outing with a plus-1 rating, in a tilt that only had two other Pens’ players reach positive figures. So, overall, for being on the last-line, Goc, in all likelihood, left a lasting impression on the coaching staff.

However, to me, even though Goc is listed as a center, his skill-set would be more suitable for the third-line.

Although Goc will be lined up on the wing, it’s imperative that the team gets consistent contributions from the third pairing. Brandon Sutter, for the most part, has been ineffective all season long, and he needs two, not one, wingers to help him push through that threshold.

Lee Stempniak, who I presumed would tryout for top-line duties, slotted as Sutter’s right winger last night, which was a valid idea by head coach Dan Bylsma, but Goc needs to be on the left flank, not Taylor Pyatt. I acknowledge the blueprint to try and balance out all the lines, but Goc, regardless of his most comfortable position, would benefit Sutter in a number of ways.

Considering Stempniak skated on the third-line, it somewhat indicated that perhaps the Pens’ brass feels Beau Bennett is ultimately Crosby’s right winger. Not stating that’s the plan, but I too believe Bennett, whenever he returns, would benefit greatly by playing on that top pairing. And arguably with little time to get Bennett back into the fold, putting him on the line he was slotted before suffering a long-term ailment, is probably in the team’s best interest.

But before I lose you, and move off-topic, let’s go back to the Goc-to-third-line proposal.

He’s a better scorer than Pyatt. Period. And what’s the third-line lacking? Production.

Both Goc and Stempniak play an uptempo style, and given they’re new to the roster, what better way to get them acclimated than to pair them together. It will also provide Sutter – whose been without regular wingers essentially all season – with enough time down the stretch to get accustomed, and build sufficient chemistry, if they’re the concrete third-line flankers.

That, and I also believe Vitale needs to be in the lineup. He brings too much energy and grit to the table. A line of Craig Adams, Tanner Glass, and Vitale is formidable. Pittsburgh doesn’t necessarily need the fourth-line to produce, they just need to bring the pain, which is why Goc’s best fitted for the third-line.

Last night was Goc and Stempniak’s first game, and they have yet to practice with their new team, so, there’s a good chance they move around the lineup. For now, I’ll save judgement for where they should play, but at first glance, both are great options for the third-line. Especially Goc.

We’ll see where they skate for tonight’s game against the Anaheim Ducks.

The contest can be seen on the ROOT Network, and is set to start at 10 p.m.

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