The Pittsburgh Penguins are heading into a pivotal Game 5 with Columbus Saturday, and it seems as though head coach Dan Bylsma is set to switch the lines up a bit.
According to the Pens’ Twitter handle, while the Pens’ first two lines remained the same in Saturday’s practice, the third-line now has Joe Vitale playing wing, and the fourth has Marcel Goc centering it.
Morning skate line-rushes: Kunitz-Crosby-Stempniak Jokinen-Malkin-Neal Vitale-Sutter-Bennett Glass-Goc-Adams Conner-Pyatt-Megna
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) April 26, 2014
Although the lineup is considered a game-time decision, we should be prepared to see these lines at puck drop.
Despite there being no confirmation regarding Goc’s availability for tonight, the fact he’s now centered the fourth-line for the past two days in practice suggest he’s all but ready to make his return. However, it remains to be seen how effective he’ll be.
Goc’s re-insertion is without a doubt a boost, but jumping into a crucial game against a fiery team – in the playoffs no less – is always questionable. Goc is a tremendous face-off player, and puck-mover, so his addition is obviously much needed. It’ll also be interesting to see how Vitale fairs as well.
Vitale is certainly a speedy guy, and does a great job of getting in front of the net; however, for the majority of this series he’s been playing the role of fourth-line center. So, will he be a little shaky on the wing? It shouldn’t interfere with him making an impact, but we’ll see.
Brian Gibbons was absent from practice, meaning his status for tonight is doubtful.
Game 5 can be seen on the NBC Sports Network, and is set to start at 7 p.m.