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Latest Penguins Buzz

It’s a banner raising night for the Penguins.

There is already a ton of storylines surrounding the Penguins entering tonight from Sidney Crosby’s health, to Marc Andre Fleury’s opportunity with Matt Murray sidelined, but what is going to dictate whether the Penguins stay on top this season will be their commitment to team defense from the forwards on down.

How the Penguins dominated the neutral zone throughout the post-season was the important facet to the Penguins hoisting Lord Stanley.

To that level just doesn’t seem sustainable but how far of a drop will there be?

Bringing back the same group will still have its challenges for Mike Sullivan and his biggest challenge will be keeping players 1-20 committed to his type of team game that saw Sullivan put together arguably the greatest coaching season by a Penguins bench boss ever in how he transformed this team.

Can Sullivan keep a 100% buy-in when the stars are only playing 15, 16 minutes like was the case for Evgeni Malkin at times?

Sidney Crosby suffering a concussion in Friday’s practice after what Crosby described as just getting “tangled” with a teammate would seem to be concerning with Crosby’s concussion history.

Yet that hasn’t been the case. From Crosby to many in the Penguins’ organization, there is a lot of optimism that this latest concussion will be very short-term for Crosby with a source inside the [hide] Crosby camp saying not to be surprised if Crosby is cleared for full contract by the end of the weekend and back in the lineup next week.

“Chance he only misses two-three games,” the source said. “He’s responding very well to every challenge they’re [medical staff] giving him.”

“We think he’s making progress,” Mike Sullivan said on Wednesday. “Obviously the fact that he was on the ice today is a positive sign for us, so that’s great news for us. He’s making progress.”

Crosby pushed himself big time in Wednesday’s practice and had no setback in skating again this morning.

The Penguins internally have also been preparing for Crosby to be out short-term.

It’s one reason the team has opted against bringing up a young player like Jake Guentzel and stick for now with tough guy Tom Sestito (likely only one or two games)

Pittsburgh’s opening night lineup will feature some version of the following lines:

Carl Hagelin – Nick Bonino – Phil Kessel
Chris Kunitz- Evgeni Malkin – Scott Wilson
Conor Sheary- Matt Cullen – Patric Hornqvist
Tom Sestito – Eric Fehr – Tom Kuhnhackl

The Penguins in the short-term feel confident of still being able to throw three scoring lines out there to cause matchup problems and Bryan Rust is also tracking towards a return to the lineup next week, maybe even Saturday night vs Anaheim.

“He’s feeling really good, he’s really close,” Sullivan said today of Rust.

image— Polled Five scouts on the five teams in the Eastern Conference as the biggest threats to the Penguins repeating as Eastern Conference/Stanley Cup Champions.

1. Tampa Bay Lightning (3 first place votes)
2. Montreal Canadiens (1 first place vote) – Scouts love the Canadiens –
3. Washington Capitals (1 first place vote)
4. New York Rangers
5. Philadelphia Flyers

Out of the results, the Lightning received three first place votes, two second votes. Montreal received one first place vote, two second place votes and two third place votes.

Washington received one first place vote, one second place vote, two third place votes and one fourth place vote.

The support for the Canadiens around the league has been very strong, most notably from scouts and coaches. I can tell you the Penguins coaching staff is among the coaching staffs in the Eastern Conference that expect Montreal to be one of the top teams in the East.

The lack of love for the Capitals was interesting, though, the scout who gave them a first place vote believes Washington’s third line of Zach Sanford – Lars Eller – Justin Williams is going to be a game changer that puts them over the top this post-season. Will be an interesting line to watch tonight.

The Rangers received one third place vote and the scout believes they’ve made great strides in a building a four line scoring team to properly matchup against the Penguins. “Love the potential their bottom-6 has, “ the scout said.

A copycat league it is, the Rangers will boast a fourth line of Michael Grabner – Brandon Pirri – Jesper Fast. A lot of speed and skill there. Gone are the days of Tanner Glass being out there.

The Flyers edged out the Panthers in the voting.

— Some news this morning emerged with David Morehouse going on the record with KDKA that the team is no longer for sale.

The Penguins took themselves off the market for good in August, per a source.

The Penguins no longer for sale is far from a surprise. The first obstacle was what many financial experts called at the time being an unrealistic asking price that was never going to land a seller.

Second there was just no feasible scenario where Mario could cash out with Ron Burkle staying as majority owner.

However, one of the main reasons the team is not planning to explore a sale for at least another three to five years, per a source close to the situation, is that Ron Burkle and Mario Lemieux are back on the same page.

The Lemieux-Burkle relationship started to hit a speed bump in the summer of 2014 where both men had different views on the direction of the organization.

Lemieux preferred to keep Ray Shero, while Burkle and Morehouse wanted Shero out in the worst way.

5SecondsApp (19)How things played out didn’t help things either but at the end of the day, winning cures all and both men are planning to ride out Sidney Crosby’s prime it appears.

— Why did the Penguins claim Mike Condon when Matt Murray is believed to be a week or two away from returning?

Mike Sullivan has said it has everything to do with Tristan Jarry.

“We feel that in order for [Tristan Jarry] to continue with his development, it’s in his best interest not to sit behind Marc and to actually get into games and play,” Sullivan said. “Our management team was to make a move and pickup Mike Condon on waivers. That gave us an opportunity to do what we thought was best for Tristan.

“As a young goaltender we’re ecstatic with the training camp that he had. He came into camp in extremely good shape. He played extremely well in the opportunities that he’s been given and we’re thrilled with the progress that he’s made.”

However, the organization saw this as an opportunity to bolster their organizational depth and legitimately see Mike Condon as an NHL caliber backup goaltender, possibly down the road past this season were the Penguins to move a Fleury or Murray.

Condon, though, is a UFA at seasons end.

Sources say assistant GM Bill Guerin pushed hard for the Penguins’ to claim Condon.

The Penguins are intrigued about getting him to work with Mike Bales again.