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Insider Only Game Day Buzz: Skinner back for Canes; Malkin skates again; Despres scratched for 2nd straight game?


PENGUINS (13-7-0, 26 PTS) @ HURRICANES (9-8-1, 19 PTS)
Things continue to move in the right direction for Evgeni Malkin who skated again this morning at Southpointe. Malkin has been symptom free since Tuesday and has now skated in consecutive days. The Penguins continue to indicate there is no timetable for his return and they are going to be very careful on not establishing one. However, it wouldn’t be surprising if Malkin gets cleared for contact following this weekend, barring a setback.
Jeff Skinner, Tim Brent, Tim Gleason and Jamie McBain will all return to the lineup tonight for Carolina.
The return of Skinner is huge for Carolina who has missed the last five games. Skinner is third on the team with 14 points (7G-7A) in 13 games. He will play tonight on the second line with Jordan Staal.
“Jordan is able to hold the puck and gain space. He’s a big power-forward. When he has the opportunity to draw people into him, Skinner is more of a guy that reacts off of people,” Hurricanes head coach Kirk Muller said. “He finds his openings and his time and space from it. Because of that, it’s opened it up for Skinner to do his thing and be more creative. Jordan is very excited to have Skinner back tonight. And we are. It makes us a better team with him in the lineup.”

Word from the Penguins morning is that Simon Despres, Mark Eaton and Zach Boychuk are expected to be the scratches again tonight. Boychuk was the extra forward while Despres took no reps I’m told with the top-3 pairings, skating as the fourth pairing with Mark Eaton.
This would mark the second straight game that Despres is a healthy scratch as Bortuzzo and Despres continue to rotate in and out of the lineup every couple games since Matt Niskanen and Kris Letang have returned healthy. If Despres does sit again tonight, one interesting thing with him is that some members of the Penguin brass have felt going into the NHL season that it would be good for him to not play every game.
Chris Kunitz – Sidney Crosby – James Neal
Beau Bennett – Dustin Jeffrey – Tyler Kennedy
Matt Cooke – Brandon Sutter – Pascal Dupuis
Tanner Glass – Joe Vitale – Craig Adams
Brooks Orpik – Paul Martin
Matt Niskanen – Kris Letang
Deryk Engelland – Robert Bortuzzo
Marc Andre Fleury will start in goal

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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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