The second round of off-season polls has concluded at Experiencing the Evolution, and here are the results...
Poll No. 1: You're Michel Therrien, what's your top offensive line?
The general consensus is that Satan will play alongside Crosby. That's basically the role that Miro was brought in to fill. Whether or not he can live up to the expectations that will surely result from him playing alongside the league's most gifted play-maker will be one of the biggest keys to success for the Pens this season.
As for Crosby's other winger, Pascal Dupuis struggled at times last season. He botched on a lot of scoring chances that Sid set up for him in front of the net. He has the quickness to keep up with Crosby, but a scoring touch is something that Pascal lacked, and likely won't find anytime soon.
Personally, I like the Satan-Crosby-Fedotenko line, although Fedotenko will likely be filling a wing on the second or third line. Max Talbot is another candidate to play on the wing opposite Satan, if Michel Therrien decides to take Max out of his natural center position.
Poll No. 2: You're Michel Therrien, what's your 2nd offensive line?
This was a tight one. Sykora-Malkin-Fedotenko seems like the most logical line. Sykora and Malkin showed great chemistry playing alongside each other for the biggest part of last season, and I see no reason why they would be split up this year.
Therrien may choose to put Staal on the wing on the second line when the team is looking for a big goal, or a momentum boost. Staal is a natural center, and an excellent back-checker.
He is perhaps more valuable in the defensive zone than in the offensive zone. Centers are looked on to carry the load in terms of defensive responsibility among forwards, which is the biggest reason why Staal might not see much time on the wing.
Poll No. 3: You're Michel Therrien, what's your top powerplay unit?
The majority of fans seem to like Malkin playing the point on the power play. I am still failing to see why. Malkin was racking up power play goals more regularly than Janet Gretzky racks up gambling debt when he was on the wing.
Then, once Sid returned from his injury, Therrien decided to construct an "uber-power play" consisting of Crosby, Hossa, and Malone up front and Malkin and Gonchar at the point.
Gino expressed his discomfort about playing the point on the power play, but Therrien stuck with the line throughout the playoffs. Malkin's power play production faltered, although he did manage to snipe in at least two goals that I can recall from the point.
The Penguins' second power play unit last season left much to be desired, which is why I think that Crosby and Malkin should each have their own, separate power play units to work with. Satan and Whitney with Crosby, Sykora and Gonchar with Malkin are the most logical combinations that I can come up with. But then again, I write for a hockey blog, I don't coach a hockey team, so what do I know?
Poll No. 4: How many Penguins will play in the All-Star game this season?
Four players (43%)
Three players (35%)
Two players (15%)
One player (7%)
Crosby, Malkin, Gonchar, and Fleury are likely the four players that fans expect to have all-star caliber seasons. It is rather rare to see four players from one team being selected to play in the all-star game, but you can't deny impressive statistics.
If the "big four" put up the big numbers, they very well could all meet on the ice together during All-Star Weekend.
Poll No. 5: How many wins will Marc-Andre Fleury record this season?
40-45 wins (55%)
35-40 wins (26%)
45-50 wins (13%)
30-35 wins (6%)
Fleury hit the 40 win plateau in 2006-07, so it's not unreachable. With another year of experience under his belt, and the added confidence he gained during the Penguins' playoff run last season should be enough to propel Fleury back into the class of elite NHL goaltenders.
If he picks up where he left off in the playoffs last year, 45-50 wins is definitely not out of reach.
Let's Go Pens