Tyler Kennedy is not a superstar player. He's not a top winger. He's probably not worth his salary. There are a lot of things that Tyler Kennedy isn't and there are a lot of things that he lacks.
But what he does have is speed. And energy. And the fact that he plays a relatively simple game. Also, he's not Tanner Glass.
So why isn't he in the line-up?
We've ragged on Tyler Kennedy A LOT over the years, but he's generally performed well in big games, especially in the postseason. He has playoff experience and, while the experiment of placing him on a top line was a failure, he still brings something to the team.
In his career against the New York Islanders, Tyler Kennedy has scored nine goals and picked up 13 assists. Yes, that probably means nothing in terms of today's game, but it's more than a lot of players have done.
You can make the case that the Penguins don't need more offense, but Kennedy wouldn't be expected to provide offense with this line-up. His ceiling would be the third line and he'd mostly see most of his time on the fourth line. There may be occasions where a Cooke-Sutter-Kennedy line would be useful. Otherwise, he could provide "energy" on the fourth line. The Islanders have been beating the Penguins with a fast, north-south game. That's exactly the style that Kennedy plays.
Much has been made of the fact that Tanner Glass kills penalties, but we don't see this as a reason for leaving him in the line-up. He hasn't been the hard-hitting, physical presence that we expected him to be when the Penguins signed him in the offseason. He hasn't been bad, but he also hasn't been good. He's just kind of been there. Besides, Adams, Sutter and Cooke can kill penalties too. Jussi Jokinen saw some time on the penalty kill in Carolina, so he can fill that role if needed. That eliminates the need for Glass to be in the line-up, in our opinion.
From Shutdown Line, a Carolina Hurricanes blog:
As far as forwards go, the best regular penalty killers have been Jussi Jokinen and Jordan Staal. The latter has been on-ice for four powerplay goals against, but he is the team's best penalty killer when it comes to preventing scoring chances against.
Glass has the fifth-highest minutes on the team on the penalty kill, so the notion that he's irreplaceable due to his penalty killing isn't exactly true.
Almost all of Jokinen's minutes on the PK were in Carolina.
Adding Tyler Kennedy to the team won't be a game-changing decision. It would be swaping a fourth liner for another fourth liner. But it would still be an upgrade.
If, before this series started, we thought we'd be discussing turning to Tyler Kennedy for help in game five, we'd probably start crying. But here we are. Unleash Kennedy.