PENGUINS (31-10-0, 62 PTS) @ PANTHERS (13-21-6, 32 pts)
GOALTENDING MATCHUP: Marc Andre Fleury (20-6-0, 2.31 GAA, .917 sv%) eyeing his 21st win of the season, will be back in goal tonight vs the Florida Panthers. Fleury has won six straight starts vs the Panthers, posting a 1.30 goals-against-average during that span. Fleury is 19-3 in his last 22 starts.
Jacob Markstrom (6-9-1, 2.99 GAA, .910 sv%) will get the start in goal for Florida. Markstrom has given up 10 goals on 54 shots in his last two starts, both losses. Markstrom made his first start of the season against the Penguins on February 22nd, a 3-1 Panthers loss. Markstrom played well making 37 saves on 40 shots.
STATUS QUO ON LINES, D-PAIRS:
No lineup changes are expected upfront or on the backend for the Penguins. Dustin Jeffrey, Joe Vitale, Robert Bortuzzo and Simon Despres were the extra’s again this morning.
SHOULD PENGUINS CONSIDER SENDING DESPRES DOWN?
Simon Despres seems to have lost the confidence of the coaching staff and has fallen down the depth chart to 8th or 9th when this group is fully healthy. Behind Paul Martin, Brooks Orpik, Kris Letang, Mark Eaton, Matt Niskanen, Douglas Murray, Deryk Engelland on the depth chart and maybe even Robert Bortuzzo now, Despres has a very little chance of being a part of the regular playoff rotation.
With Despres being just 21 years old and still in his second professional season, should the Penguins strongly consider sending Despres down to Wilkes Barre to let him get consistent game action and top minutes in key situations?
The option is there for the Penguins. Despres doesn’t have to clear waivers and last Wednesday (April 3nd) the Penguins sent Despres down (paper transaction) so he is eligible to play in the American Hockey League playoffs.
This option though likely wouldn’t be explored by the Penguins until Paul Martin returns to full health as the Penguins don’t want to be risking injury to Despres when he could still be counted on at the NHL level if another injury were to pop up among the current top-6 defensemen
TONIGHT’S PROJECTED LINEUP
Chris Kunitz – Evgeni Malkin – Jarome Iginla
Brenden Morrow – Jussi Jokinen – Pascal Dupuis
Matt Cooke – Brandon Sutter – Tyler Kennedy
Tanner Glass – Craig Adams – Beau Bennett
Brooks Orpik – Kris Letang
Douglas Murray – Matt Niskanen
Mark Eaton – Deryk Engelland
Marc Andre Fleury in Goal