Only a 30-something person like myself would recognize the 1987 Suzanne Vega song reference in the headline, but I couldn’t resist using it. And while Luca Caputi doesn’t exactly “live” on the second line in Pittsburgh, he will eventually and we’re getting a nice little preview of that right now.
Finally, the Penguins are starting to give up on their experiments of using third-line, moderately skilled players on the wing with Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby. While Pascal Dupuis, Ruslan Fedotenko, Petr Sykora, Miroslav Satan, Tyler Kennedy, Chris Kunitz, Bill Guerin, Max Talbot, Colby Armstrong (the list goes on and on) had their moments, they were clearly stopgaps. The team wanted to give their young wingers more time to mature – and rightly so.
Caputi is the first of several wingers in Pittsburgh’s farm system to get the call this year. Several ‘skilled’ wingers, that is. Caputi is being groomed for a scoring role because that’s exactly what he does – score. He’s kind of like Luc Robitaille in the sense that he is always in the right place at the right time and has the quick hands to get the goals that a lot of other players (such as Dupuis, Fedotenko…let’s not get started on that list again) would flub.
So is he NHL ready? Maybe not, but he’s pretty darn close. He showed some chemistry with Malkin during a cup of coffee in the show a year ago, so coach Dan Bylsma put him on that line again. It resulted in a goal in his first game and an assist in the following one this past Thursday. In fact, he even got a look on the top power play unit. Yes, that one. You know, the one with both Crosby and Malkin on it?
Two points in two games is a great start and with Kunitz on the shelf for the next few weeks (abdominal surgery), Caputi will get an extended stay barring a monster slump. A full-time spot in the top six is his for the taking in the fall, but if he keeps producing he won’t need to wait that long.
Injuries, from a fantasy league perspective: With Patrice Bergeron (thumb) and Marc Savard (knee) sidelined for the Bruins, David Krejci, who stole the second-line center job from Bergeron a year ago only to have it stolen back this season, now finds himself the top dog. In his first game in this position, he was a disappointing minus-2 and was held without a point. Still, he’s going to get all the ice time and power play time he can handle and that should be enough to get him rolling again. Currently on pace for 44 points, I think he’ll end up in the high-50s.
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