Galchenyuk to top line, with aim to get going


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Alex Galchenyuk. -- MATT SUNDAY / DKPS

CRANBERRY, Pa. -- The Penguins' forward lines had a new look in practice on Friday at the Lemieux Sports Complex.

Mike Sullivan promoted Alex Galchenyuk to the top line, forcing Jake Guentzel over to the right side. Jared McCann moved up from the third-line left wing to the second-line left wing. Dominik Simon skated on the third line, which moved Dominik Kahun from the right wing to the left wing.

Alex Galchenuk — Sidney Crosby — Jake Guentzel
Jared McCann — Evgeni Malkin — Bryan Rust
Dominik Kahun — Nick Bjugstad — Dominik Simon
Zach Aston-Reese — Teddy Blueger — Brandon Tanev

"(Galchenyuk) has the ability to score goals," Sullivan said of the new top line. "He's shown that ability year in and year out in this league. We tried him for quite some time on Geno's line, and we felt we'd make this change to see what happens. Geno's line had a great third period last night, and Alex is a guy I think has the ability to play with Sid and Jake. It's something we've been talking about for a little while here. We wanted him to get some games under his belt, and if we didn't feel it was going to work with Geno, that this was a possibility or an option for us that we could potentially try."

Another big shakeup occurred on the power play, which last scored 11 games ago in the 7-2 win in Winnipeg. Since that goal from Jake Guentzel, the Penguins have gone an absurd 0-for-23 on the man-advantage.

Sullivan bumped Justin Schultz and Evgeni Malkin from the top unit, and replaced them with Juuso Riikola and Nick Bjugstad, who joined Guentzel, Galchenyuk, and Sidney Crosby.

Schultz and Malkin joined Kahun, Marcus Pettersson, and Jared McCann on the second unit.

"I think sometimes as a power play group when you're not having success, there's a tendency to squeeze sticks because these are proud guys and they want to contribute and help this team win," Sullivan said of the changes. "Sometimes to split them up and put them on separate units maybe tweaks the mindset a little bit, and maybe we can spark something."

Crosby said the shakeup to the power play could cause the players on that unit to rely on their reactions more instead of just thinking, because the comfort level isn't as high. Still, he thinks the power play combinations used so far have had some good looks.

"I mean, we've had some really good chances and it just hasn't gone in," Crosby said. "I think they're just trying to find a way to get one in."


• Kris Letang is week-to-week with a lower-body injury. Other than Letang and Patric Hornqvist, who is out "longer term," everybody else was in attendance.

With no Letang, the defense pairings had the same look they did against the Islanders:

Brian Dumoulin — John Marino
Marcus Pettersson — Justin Schultz
Jack Johnson — Juuso Riikola — Chad Ruhwedel

• Sam Lafferty rotated into Aston-Reese's spot on the fourth line, and still looks to be the odd man out.

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