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Insider Only Game 62: Morning Skate Report: Neal skating with Staal, Dupuis

Morning Skate Report From Consol

San Jose Sharks (34-21-6, 74pts) @ Pittsburgh Penguins (36-20-5, 77pts)
Neal, Niskanen to make debuts: 9:56 a.m – James Neal and Matt Niskanen make their Penguins debut tonight against the San Jose Sharks.
Neal, the Penguins prized acquisition out of the three player swap, will look to have a better debut than Alex Goligoski did with the Dallas Stars last night.
Goligoski’s high sticking penalty in the third period of last night’s game against the New Jersey Devils led to a Kyle Palmieri power play goal (game winner) with 5:37 left in regulation as the surging Devils defeated Dallas 1-0 for their 8th straight win.
Martin, Kunitz look strong in individual workouts: Paul Martin and Chris Kunitz are going through a 45+ minute on-ice workout with strength and conditioning coach Mike Kadar.
Martin has been skating and shooting very well during various drills. His injury is not considered long-term by any means, which is good news.
Arron Asham (concussion) was briefly on the ice in a track suit as was Mike Comrie. Asham left the ice pretty quickly.
Dan Bylsma has spent a good five minutes talking with Chris Kunitz as he finished up his on-ice workouts. Kunitz is waiting for clearance from the team to return to the lineup.
Jeffrey, Letestu participating: As expected, injured players Dustin Jeffrey and Mark Letestu are participating in today’s skate.
10:30 a.m. – Lines & D-Pairs

Top-4 Lines
1. Neal – Staal – Dupuis
2. Conner – Talbot – Rupp
3. Cooke – Adams – Kennedy
4. Sterling – Vitale – Wallace
Notes: Letestu – Jeffrey and Godard are skating as the 5th line and it doesn’t appear either player will be in the lineup tonight. Jeffrey is the closest of the two.
Dan Bylsma said yesterday that Neal would play with Jordan Staal and Tyler Kennedy. There has been one change on that front as Pascal Dupuis not Kennedy is skating on the top-line.
Pens will have 5 right handed defenseman in the lineup
With Paul Martin not in the lineup tonight, Pittsburgh will have 5 right handed defenseman in the lineup.
The pairings this morning were:
Orpik – Letang
Lovejoy – Michalek
Niskanen – Engelleand
Niskanen worked the left side with Engelland as the third pairing.
Power Play Units
1st Unit: Kennedy – Staal – Neal
Letang (left point) – Sterling (right point)
*Neal is working the high slot with Kennedy on the left side and Staal in front. Brett Sterling working the right point.
The Penguins are running a lot of plays from the left side.
*Matt Niskanen is running the left point on the second power play unit.

Tonight’s Lineup

Neal – Staal – Dupuis
Cooke – Adams – Kennedy
Rupp – Talbot – Conner
Sterling – Vitale – Wallace
Orpik – Letang
Lovejoy – Michalek
Niskanen – Engelland
Marc Andre Fleury in goal tonight.

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William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at

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