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Insider Only Game 44: Caputi to play with Malkin; Gonchar to miss 3rd straight game; Johnson to start

Atlanta Thrashers (18-17-6) @ Pittsburgh Penguins (26-16-1)
A flurry of moves this morning for the Penguins as the team looks to end a five game losing streak. Top prospect Luca Caputi has been recalled as winger Chris Kunitz has opted for abdominal surgery and will be sidelined four to six weeks.
A decision was officially made yesterday afternoon. It’s an injury that Kunitz could have kept playing with but the organization felt it was in the best interest of Kunitz to get this taken care of. Kunitz has been placed on injured reserve.
The absence of Kunitz has opened up a spot for Caputi, however, a callup of Caputi was in the works regardless of any injuries up front as the Penguins are looking to jumpstart Evgeni Malkin’s game.
Caputi leads Wilkes Barre with 13 goals but has taken his game to another level in his second professional season, playing with the type of aggressiveness in the offensive zone that his game has lacked consistently in the past.
The way Caputi performs over the next 4 weeks will set the stage for the Penguins trade deadline plans. Talent evaluators believe Caputi’s development is at the point where he will fill a much needed void that players like Ruslan Fedotenko and even Chris Kunitz have not been able to fill.
*Defenseman Sergei Gonchar will miss his third straight game I’m told.
More Pre-game Buzz

Lines
Dupuis – Crosby -Guerin
Caputi – Malkin – Fedotenko
Cooke – Staal – Kennedy
Rupp – Adams – Talbot (Godard extra)
Defensemen
Orpik – Letang
Eaton – Goligoski
McKee – Skoula
*Brent Johnson will start in goal
Scratches: Sergei Gonchar
Revamped Power Play Units
Luca Caputi will have an active role in the Penguins lineup in all areas as the young forward will play alongside Evgeni Malkin and all see significant time on the power play.
The Penguins first unit today consisted of Bill Guerin – Luca Caputi – Sidney Crosby with Evgeni Malkin (left point) – Alex Goligoski (right point).
The Penguins second unit consisted of Tyler Kennedy – Ruslan Fedotenko – Jordan Staal with Kris Letang and Mark Eaton at the points.
5-on-3 unit gets different look
Looking for a net presence in 5-on-3 situations, Jordan Staal will join Bill Guerin and Sidney Crosby down low while Kris Letang took the majority of reps at left point with Evgeni Malkin being moved to the right point.
Pittsburgh worked on a number of set plays with Bill Guerin in the slot acting as a decoy for cross ice passes.
Down numbers for Colby Armstrong
Coming off a 22 goal season, Colby Armstrong’s numbers are down in his second full season with the Atlanta Thrashers.
The 27 year old winger has 7 goals and 8 assists in 40 games played this season. Armstrong, an unrestricted free agent after the season has zero goals in his last 10 games.
Despite his numbers dropping, the Thrashers intend to open up negotiations with Armstrong prior to the trade deadline.

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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