Bylsma said the top two lines will be Kunitz-Crosby-Dupuis and ???-Malkin-Neal
Yeah I heard that on the radio today. I agree with it, but now I really don't want to see TK get the last spot. I would really like to see someone with some defense awareness to go along with Malkin and Neal. I'm one of the few who think Malkin is pretty good defensively, but he takes a lot of chances (as all great offensive players do...including Crosby). It would be nice to have someone there to kind of clean that up. I don't think Neal and/or TK are that guy. Kunitz is no Selke nominee, but I think he is defensively responsible. Moreso than TK and Neal anyway.
Unfortunately, I'm not sure they have someone in the organization to fill that need. Cooke and Jeffrey are about the only ones who I can think of that possibly could, but they still need to have some offensive game. I'm not sure Cooke or Jeffrey have what it takes.
I agree. Malkin does seem to get goal crazy sometimes and he's not always the smartest hockey player (the couple of seasons where he took way too many stupid penalties, for example). That's why I think coaching is very important for Malkin. Sid doesn't need a coach. He knows what he needs to do and he'll do it. But Malkin really benefits from a coach demanding him to play defense. When Therrien was here, he used Malkin on the PK more and instilled the defense first mindset. As a result, Malkin was good defensively and as Sea said led the league in takeaways (or was at least near the top). But with Bylsma beating "go north as quickly as possible" into his head, he hasn't been quite as good defensively.
I still think he gets the "lazy, no defense Russian" label unfairly put on him by a lot of people though. He hasn't been great defensively under Bylsma, but nobody has except for when they had to be when Sid and Malkin were both out. He's not in Datsyuk's class defensively by any means, but he's nowhere near someone like Ovechkin doing figure 8's in the defensive zone doing nothing but looking for the breakout pass.
But anyways, I'm getting off topic, I think I would go with Cooke until someone else steps up. Then I'd put Tangradi on the 3rd line with Sutter and TK. That gives Tangradi some offensive skill to play with and maybe he can prove himself when he's not playing with Adams and Asham/Park/Vitale/etc.
It also sounds like they are going to give Bennett a shot. From what I read, he has the skill, but they think he needs to become more physically mature. Anyone know anything about his defensive abilities?