With a healthy line-up, Jarome Iginla would likely play alongside Sidney Crosby and Pascal Dupuis. Evgeni Malkin would play with James Neal and Chris Kunitz. Those combinations have proven successful in the past. There's no doubt that Evgeni Malkin and James Neal have great chemistry with one another and Chris Kunitz played well alongside them last season. Crosby and Dupuis also have good chemistry with one another and, in the brief moments that they've played together, Crosby and Iginla seem to gel pretty well. Yes, Chris Kunitz also fits in very well in with Crosby and Dupuis, but that puts Jarome Iginla on a line with Evgeni Malkin.
Maybe that's not the best combination.
Both Jarome Iginla and Evgeni Malkin are incredibly talented players. This is not a post that is meant to knock their ability or their performance during the playoffs. They've both picked up a lot of points in this series. However, they've also received a lot of attention from the Islanders defense and checkers. In addition, they may not be the right two players for one another. With James Neal out with an injury, they've played together and it's looked off. Malkin's style and Iginla's style do not seem to mesh.
Mike Colligan has more:
So why not keep him with Malkin? Why mess with a good thing?
After a closer review, Iginla and Malkin were awful together in Game 2. Defensive coverage breakdowns, lazy backchecks, and repeated miscommunication in the offensive zone. In Game 3, the Islanders line of Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielsen, and Matt Moulson did an excellent job defending against the Malkin unit.
As Rossi alluded to, it takes a special player to mesh with Malkin.
I’m not convinced Jarome Iginla is that player.
We discussed Malkin’s quirks in this article on Brenden Morrow a few weeks ago. He’s unpredictable — like a mad scientist on the ice. He improvises. And he expects his linemates to read his mind.
Iginla is a more straightforward player. He wins battles in the corner and behind the net. He uses his big shot to score off the rush. The perfect complement to Sidney Crosby.
But moving Iginla onto the Crosby line would obviously require moving Chris Kunitz or Pascal Dupuis somewhere else. That’s not an easy move to make.
The Islanders have definitely focused a great deal of attention on Malkin, probably more attention than they've focused on Crosby. Malkin is likely still dealing with a shoulder injury and there are a few aspects of his game that are not quite up to Evgeni Malkin standards. That's not saying he's playing poorly. He obviously isn't. But his play alongside Iginla hasn't been as good as his play alongside Neal. Unfortunately, James Neal is injured.
So perhaps switching things up would help.
Pascal Dupuis plays very well with Sidney Crosby, so he likely won't be moving from that line. However, Kunitz has shown that he can play well with either Crosby or Malkin. Forming a Dupuis-Crosby-Iginla line and a Kunitz-Malkin-Bennett/Morrow/Neal-when-he-returns-from-injury line could pay off for the Penguins.
More from Colligan:
That makes moving Kunitz to Malkin’s left wing a no-brainer. Kunitz has had a ton of success with Malkin and Neal in the past. (By the way, what does Kunitz’s ability to produce in any situation with any linemates say about his value?)
So now that we’ve decided on Crosby, Dupuis, and Iginla, where should they line up? More specifically, who should stay at right wing?
Iginla is right-handed and spent most of his 14-year career at right wing in Calgary. He says right wing is a lot more natural for him but he’s willing to work at left wing if that’s what the coaches want.
Pascal Dupuis has moved around a bit more. He’s spent most of his time with the Penguins at right wing, but he’s played center and was Crosby’s left wing after Pittsburgh acquired Marian Hossa at the deadline in 2008.
The Penguins' offense hasn't been nearly as much of an issue as the Penguins' defense has been in this series, so maybe no changes are necessary up front. But Colligan makes several good points in his piece and determines that Iginla would likely be better off playing with Crosby and that Kunitz should play with Malkin. We tend to agree.
Read the rest of his piece: It’s Time to Unite Jarome Iginla and Sidney Crosby