MORNING SKATE BUZZ
The Penguins will begin their second round series tonight against the New York Rangers without veteran defenseman Brooks Orpik. Orpik who the Penguins coaches feel had turned up him his game since the Olympic break, remains sidelined for the start of the series after missing the last two games of the Columbus series with talk of a possible back injury.
The Orpik injury had an interesting impact on others during the Columbus series.
With Orpik out, Kris Letang moved up into a top pairing role with Paul Martin and played possibly his best hockey of the season in games 5 and 6 with Martin.
Rob Scuderi who has been the Penguins weak link on the blueline this season, also played some of his best hockey in games 5 and 6 while paired with Robert Bortuzzo.
The Penguins will hope that trend continues tonight in Game 1 against the Rangers.
Upfront, Joe Vitale and Brandon Sutter are ready to go and fine after some scares in Game 6 against Columbus.
The Penguins will open the series tonight with the same 12 forwards that dressed Monday night. Brian Gibbons is healthy after a a neck injury he suffered in Game 2 of the Columbus series but is expected to remain a scratch.
Chris Kunitz – Sidney Crosby – Lee Stempniak
Jussi Jokinen – Evgeni Malkin – James Neal
Beau Bennett – Brandon Sutter – Joe Vitale
Tanner Glass – Marcel Goc – Craig Adams
Paul Martin – Kris Letang
Olli Maatta- Matt Niskanen
Rob Scuderi – Robert Bortuzzo