The Latest Penguins Buzz
Penguins winger Luc Caputi was a suprise healthy scratch for the second consecutive game Thursday night. Eric Godard was in the lineup instead of Caputi and played a total of three shifts (2:24 TOI).
Indications are Caputi will be re-assigned to Wilkes Barre/Scranton and that could come as early as this weekend, following the Penguins five game road trip I’m told.
Pittsburgh conducted their mid-season scouting evaluations this week as a number of team scouts have joined the team during parts of the Penguins current 3-1 road trip. The consensus is that Caputi is not ready, however, Dan Bylsma has been questioned for the way he’s used Caputi as Bill Guerin has been the Penguins only consistent winger this season.
It is not clear at this time if Caputi will play Saturday night against Vancouver. Pittsburgh will hold an optional skate today in Vancouver.
Mark Letestu and Nick Johnson could be candidates to see time with the big club in the near future. Eric Godard has been a liability for Pittsburgh but Pittsburgh is expected to give the unit of Fedotenko – Malkin – Talbot a long look which puts Caputi in a fourth line role that management doesn’t want him in.
Staal has first three assists game in his career
Jordan Staal had three assists in Thursday night’s 3-1 win Staal assists on goals by Tyler Kennedy (9), Matt Cooke (9) and Pascal Dupuis (11).
It was the first time in Staal’s career that he had three assists in a game.
Fleury the catalyst in comeback win
Pittsburgh has won 3 out of 4 games but it’s still too early to say they are back on track after a three week slump.
But, a bright spot for the second consecutive game was Marc Andre Fleury. Down 2-0, Fleury made two key stops including a breakaway poke check on Dustin Penner that kept Pittsburgh in the game.
Against a fragile Oilers team, Fleury fueled the Penguins comeback and Pittsburgh finally took advantage of going up against an AHL goaltender in the third period.
Pittsburgh is 3-1 on their current five game road trip, earning their 30th win of the season Thursday night.
Scouts impressed with Ben Lovejoy
Defenseman Ben Lovejoy put together another solid game. Lovejoy had 14:07 of ice time and was a plus-1 on the night. Expect Pittsburgh to get a lot of calls about Lovejoy leading up to the trade deadline.
Pittsburgh is not that interested in moving Lovejoy and see him pushing for a top-6 spot next season. There is even some though that Lovejoy could stay with the team for the rest of the season but a Top-6 spot would have to open.
Gonchar first priority over Letang
There continues to be little movement in talks with Kris Letang and that will be the case until the Sergei Gonchar situation is resolved.
Management has targeted the next 3-4 years as their primary window of opportunity in keeping their core together (Malkin, Staal, Crosby,) and their focus in the next 2-3 weeks will be on Sergei Gonchar.
Pittsburgh will make their first official offer by the end of the month.