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Sports

May 28, 2013

Deep Penguins finding success with role players

(Continued)

Even that didn’t stop Jokinen from sitting out five playoff games. While he may have been slowed by an injury, he also lost out to a hot hand in Vitale. When Vitale went cold, Jokinen found himself right back on the ice without so much as a word from Bylsma.

“If you want to win Cups, that’s how it has to be,” Jokinen said. “We have 16 forwards and nine really good NHL defensemen on this team. Not everybody can play every night.”

The ones that do, however, have fueled a team that is 8-3 in the postseason while averaging 4.27 goals per game, a full goal ahead of everybody else. Sure, a potent power play helps. So does having Olympic gold medalists (Morrow), 30-goal scorers (Jokinen) and Cup winners (Kennedy) fighting for playing time.

Don’t expect Bylsma to change his methods anytime soon. While Kennedy and Morrow will likely be fixtures against the Bruins, the same can’t be said for Jokinen, Vitale or Bennett. Bylsma will pick and choose as he goes along, trying to decipher what his team needs in a given moment.

His touch has been golden so far. And the players say they can deal with the uncertainty if it leads to a championship.

“We’ve got a great group of extras who have gone in and out,” Vitale said. “They’ve made plays when they’re in, and they’ve kept guys up when they’re out. ... We’ve really just removed all selfishness. This isn’t an individual thing. This is a group thing.”

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