Hawks @ Penguins Pre-Game Buzz: Nick Johnson drawing high praise from Bylsma

Blackhawks at Penguins

Time: 7:00 p.m. | Where: Consol Energy Center
TV: Root Sports
Pens Lineup
Forwards
Kennedy – Staal – Johnson
Tangradi – Letestu – McDonald
Cooke – Sill – Adams
MacIntyre – Lerg – Veilleux
D-Men
Strait – Engelland
Picard – Michalek
Harrington – Lovejoy
Goaltenders: Brent Johnson to start and play 1st two periods; Scott Munroe to play the third

What to Watch For

Tonight’s game figures to be a physical and chippy game. Penguin toughguys Steve MacIntyre and Deryk Engelland will be in the lineup and Chicago will have the likes of Daniel Carcillo dressing.
“They seem to have brought a more physical and gritty lineup to the game tonight, ” head coach Dan Bylsma said on Chicago’s lineup.
Bubble players like Eric Tangradi, Nick Johnson and Alexandre Picard will all be in the lineup and given opportunities for big minutes in key situations but this won’t be a great game for the Penguins staff to evaluate those type of players. The Blackhawks are fielding a non-skilled, physical AHL type of lineup.

Pre-Game Buzz

Alexandre Picard: The 26 year old defenseman has been among the more intriguing players heading into camp. Picard has the ability to push Matt Niskanen for a roster spot and he will have to make his mark on the power play and emerge as the clear better option in that area. He will be given that opportunity tonight, working the right point on the top play unit. Picard scored 6 power play goals in 2008-2009 for the Ottawa Senators.
Pens looking to see something from Tangradi
Left winger Eric Tangradi has had a subpar camp up until this point.

Pens head coach Dan Bylsma said this morning that to this point Tangradi hasn’t pushed himself ahead of the group of 6 or 7 players battling for a final roster spot.
“The group of five, six or seven, I’m not sure Eric has pushed himself to the top of that group just yet, ” Bylsma said, while stressing it’s still early.. “We’re five days into training camp…. He didn’t participate yesterday, so today he’s going to get a chance to make a statement.
Johnson drawing high praise from Bylsma again
Dan Bylsma had high praise for Nick Johnson at the end of last season and it’s continued in training camp. However, there is still the same feeling around the team that Johnson has little chance of making the roster.
“I think Nick Johnson has been very impressive with the opportunity to this point, ” Bylsma said. He was impressive in his testing….He was impressive in his skating and his practices have been very good. He’s looked very good on the ice skating, getting his shot off and doing some of the things he can do. He’s won battles, been aggressive in that regard….winning battles, taking pucks to the net and winning wall plays.
He’s going to get an opportunity tonight and a pretty good opportunity playing next to Jordan Staal.”
Johnson is expected to see first unit power play time and top minutes at even strength.
Injury Notes
Steve Sullivan talked on Tuesday that he would play on Wednesday or Thursday but that won’t be the case. He will be held out tonight as groin tightness is popping up for the 37 year old. The Pens and Sullivan are acting like it’s minor and we’ll see about that. He has dealt with groin issues for the past couple seasons.
Dustin Jeffrey skated today and is skating well. However, he’s still a ways away from being in hockey shape. Sense is he could play in the preseason at somepoint next week, likely later in the week.
Sidney Crosby was given a scheduled day off. He had previously skated five straight days.
You don’t see players getting injured in morning skates that often but that was the case this morning with Jason Williams. Williams took line rushes on the second line and worked the left point on the power play. Williams though left early and Bylsma said during his media session that Jason will be held out due to precautionary reasons. Colin McDonald will play for the second straight game.
McDonald’s a player who has done some good things. He led the AHL in goals last season with 42.

Blackhawks Lineup

Ray Emery will get the start in goal for Chicago. Pittsburgh area native Brandon Saad will be in the lineup…
FORWARDS
29 BICKELL
52 BOLLIG
13 CARCILLO
49 DIDOMENICO
58 FROESE
67 GILBERT
59 KLINKHAMMER
72 LEBLANC
23 McLEAN
37 PIRRI
43 SAAD
65 SHAW
DEFENSE
56 CONNELLY
42 LALONDE
46 LAVIN
8 LEDDY
20 LEPISTO
6 O’DONNELL
32 SCOTT
GOALTENDERS
30 EMERY
53 SALAK

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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