Evan Rodrigues has been on this place earlier than.
And that’s as a result of he can play a complete bunch of positions.
As soon as once more, the versatile Penguins ahead is more likely to be pressed into an elevated position for Friday’s dwelling contest in opposition to the New York Rangers in Recreation 6 of their first-round playoff collection at PPG Paints Area.
With franchise pillar Sidney Crosby sidelined as a consequence of a suspected head harm he suffered in Recreation 5 on Wednesday, Rodrigues is predicted to be promoted to the staff’s second-line middle place with Danton Heinen at left wing and Kasperi Kapanen on the suitable wing.
By means of the primary 5 video games of the collection, Rodrigues had predominantly been deployed on the suitable wing of the fourth line.
As for the 82 common season video games Rodrigues participated in, he was deployed … nicely … in all places. From the season opener when he centered the second line to the common season finale that noticed him man left wing of the fourth line, Rodrigues by no means received too snug in anybody spot.
As for his present project, Penguins coaches seem greater than snug utilizing him as a top-six middle.
“He’s only a good participant,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan stated. “He has actual good offensive instincts. He can play the middle place. He can play the wing. He’s performed a few of his greatest hockey this 12 months on the middle place. We’ve utilized him on the ability performs. We’ve utilized him on the penalty kill. One of many the explanation why we signed (Rodrigues) was simply due to his versatility and our capacity to maneuver him up and down the lineup relying on what the wants of the staff are. And he’s actually fulfilled that for us this 12 months after which some.
“He’s had an actual stable 12 months for us. He’s performed a few of his greatest hockey on the middle ice place.”
Rodrigues shattered his earlier profession highs this season with 19 targets and 43 assists. And to date this postseason, he has a stable three factors (two targets, one help) in 5 video games (all of which got here in a 7-4 dwelling win in Recreation 3).
Even with a promotion, Rodrigues professes no want to change his recreation.
“Whenever you attempt to change the way in which you play and attempt to change your recreation whenever you get bumped up the lineup, I feel that’s whenever you get in hassle, whenever you attempt to be too cute and stuff like that,” Rodrigues stated. “For me, it’s simply making laborious performs, being easy early, not type of chasing it, letting the sport come to me and persevering with to play the way in which I’ve been enjoying the primary 5 video games.”
Rodrigues can be more likely to get a while with the highest power-play unit in Crosby’s absence. Throughout Friday’s morning skate, Rodrigues skated with forwards Jake Guentzel, Evgeni Malkin, Bryan Rust and defenseman Kris Letang.
“These 4 guys are all extraordinarily expert with the puck and discover open guys,” Rodrigues stated. “The important thing to success on that power-play (unit) is having that five-on-five mentality and successful puck battles. When you get possession, that’s whenever you simply type of let your pure capacity take over. Simply strive to not be too cute with it, try to shoot the puck too early and let issues come to me after that.”
The Penguins are clearly a lesser staff with out the skills of Crosby. They don’t dispute that notion.
On the similar time, they’ve gained loads of expertise of enjoying — and succeeding — with a pockmarked lineup, notably after this previous season.
“This isn’t something that our staff isn’t accustomed to,” Sullivan stated. “We’ve performed a good quantity of this season in these circumstances and in these conditions. It’s a terrific alternative for guys to step up and play extra important roles and contribute in different methods to assist the staff win. Our gamers are enthusiastic about it. They usually’ve proven a capability to rise to the event. We’ve executed it for lots of this 12 months. It isn’t something that our staff isn’t accustomed to. We consider that we have now what it takes. We’ve sufficient … We’re a deep staff, we’re an excellent hockey staff. After we play the sport with a collective effort and a staff mindset, we consider we have now what it takes to win.”
Rodrigues actually seems to have that religion in himself.
“Particularly within the playoffs, it type of brings that further juice out of you,” Rodrigues stated. “It will get you fired up somewhat bit extra. I’m going to attempt to make my mark on this recreation. However on the similar time … simply type of do what I’ve been doing the primary 5 video games and enjoying the way in which I do know I can play.”
Observe the Penguins all season lengthy.
Seth Rorabaugh is a Tribune-Overview workers author. You’ll be able to contact Seth by e mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by way of Twitter .