Pittsburgh (26-13-1) @ New Jersey (27-9-1)
The Pittsburgh Penguins and New Jersey Devils each had optional skates today as both teams prepare for the fourth meeting of the season between the two division rivals.
Pittsburgh’s lineup is uncertain at the forward position but goaltender Brent Johnson will start in net as Marc Andre Fleury will get a night off. Johnson is 4-2 on the season with a 2.68 GAA.
Eric Godard, Martin Skoula and Marc Andre were the final players off the ice this morning.
Meanwhile, goaltender Martin Brodeur will start his 16th consecutive game in goal for the Devils tonight.
Today was a big day for Sidney Crosby and Marc Andre Fleury who were named to the Canadian Olympic team for the first time while Brodeur will represent Canada for the 4th time.
Brodeur talked today how he see’s a changing of the guard as the 2010 Olympic team has a much younger look than the 2002 and 2006 teams which featured a number of veteran players and hall of famers like Steve Yzerman and Mario Lemieux.
“There’s a big transition from players that were there in ‘06 and 02 to what’s going to be in 2010,” Martin Brodeur said. “The guys like Sidney Crosby. He’s been a top player since he got drafted and he won a Stanley Cup now. This is a step for him to really establish himself.
” That’s the beauty of our country. You’ll see a lot of young players needing to really take over. Before, we would always rely on older players to do so. Now, it’s going to be different. In ‘02, we had Mario Lemieux with us, we had Joe Sakic, Rob Blake, a lot of different guys. Now, the transition has become, with the game, there are a lot of younger player. So, it will be nice to see how everybody is when the tournament starts.”
Tonight is a crucial game for Pittsburgh as the Penguins are 0-3 against New Jersey this season. Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma has been out-coached in all three meetings as the Penguins have failed to combat the Devils transition game which fuels the Devils offensive attack.
Finding a way to slow down the Devils transition game has been an area of focus for the coaching staff today.
Tonight will also make the return of Michael Rupp to New Jersey.
“I’m excited to be back and looking forward to the opportunity for us to try to get a win here, ” Rupp said this morning following the Penguins skate.
Pittsburgh is 1-3 in their last four games and in the midst of a two game losing streak.