Morning Skate Updates: The bulk of the Penguins hockey operations staff is in Pittsburgh as the team is holding organizational meetings today and tomorrow as the teams begins to formulate their trade deadline plans.
Tom Fitzgerald is on the ice this morning, overseeing the Penguins morning skate.
Line Changes for Pens
Evgeni Malkin is back in the lineup tonight and there’s been some changes on the top-4 lines as Chris Conner is the extra forward this morning for the bulk of the line rushes and Craig Adams has moved up to right wing on the 3rd line.
NEW LINE COMBINATIONS
Kunitz – Malkin – Dupuis
Cooke – Staal – Kennedy
Rupp – Talbot – Adams
Tangradi – Jeffrey – Godard/Conner
*Chris Conner surprisingly was the extra forward this morning. Eric Godard took 3 of the 4 line rushes at right wing, while Conner stayed out in the neutral zone in the likely scratches area. I’ll try to confirm if he’s in fact going to sit.
Updated: Eric Godard and Ben Lovejoy are the last players on the ice going through the probable scratches on0ice workouts with coach Tood Reirden. Looks like Godard and Lovejoy will be healthy scratches.
The rotation on the blueline is as follows:
Orpik – Letang
Martin – Michalek
Goligoski – Engelland
*Goaltender Marc Andre Fleury will get the start for Pittsburgh.
POWER PLAY UNITS
1st unit: Staal – Kunitz – Malkin
Letang – Goligoski
2nd Unit: Kennedy – Rupp – Jeffrey
Martin – Michalek
*Eric Tangradi did not take any reps with the 2nd power play unit.
BYLSMA WORKING WITH JEFFREY
Head coach Dan Bylsma is viewed as a great teacher of the game and he has spent a lot of time giving instruction to Dustin Jeffrey this morning. Bylsma had Jeffrey to the side for almost a good 3 or 4 minutes before the team went into drills then had him on the side again giving instruction after the second power play went through their drills.
Jeffrey will skate on the 4th line tonight and will also work with the 2nd power play unit.
*Arron Asham as expected is not skating this morning. He will not be available to play. Asham is believed to have suffered a shoulder injury. The Penguins are waiting fro team doctors to reveal the extent of the injury.
*Sidney Crosby has been placed on long term injured reserve to give the Penguins some cap space to make callups. The Penguins are so cap strapped that they were almost over the cap limit when they called up Eric Tangradi.
Crosby’s LTIR status is retroactive to Jan 6. which gives him the ability to return at any time. However, his return s not close.
*Mark Letestu is scheduled to have surgery next week. The Penguins are confident he’ll be back to full health before the playoffs.
SABRES PLAYING FIRST GAME SINCE BREAK
The Penguins get a Buffalo team tonight that is 7-3-0 in their last 10 games and fighting for a playoff spot as they’re 6 points out of the final playoff spot.
The Sabres though will be appearing in their first game since the All-Star break.