Morning Skate Report
The Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers have company for the top spot in the Eastern Conference as the Penguins (25-12-3, 53pts) and Flyers (24-10-5, 53pts) are tied for the conference points lead with a third team..
The Washington Capitals (23-12-5, 51pts) have avenged their long losing streak to move just two points from the top spot, but it’s the Tampa Bay Lightning (24-11-5, 53pts) who have made the race for the top spot a four team race as the season is inching closer to the half way mark.
Tampa Bay has an opportunity to surpass the Penguins tonight at the Consol Energy Center.
The Penguins got their second look at the Washington Capitals this season on Saturday night in a 3-1 loss to the Caps in the Winter Classic and with things back to normalcy, the Penguins embark on a tough seven game stretch that begins tonight at home.
The Penguins get the Lightning in back-to-back games who defeated Washington last night in a thrilling 1-0 win behind a strong performance from newly acquired goaltender Dwayne Roloson.
Pittsburgh then gets hit with a back-to-back situation, traveling to Montreal (21-16-3, 45pts) for a Thursday night game. The Candians are struggling of late but have had the Penguins number, winning 4 of their last 5 games against Pittsburgh, dating back to the playoffs.
During their next seven games, the Penguins will see the Canadians and Bruins each twice in a five game span.
The game observers are really looking forward to is January 18 against the Detroit Red Wings in what could be a preview of the Stanley Cup Final.
Pittsburgh’s entering a good stretch against playoff teams and even some Cup contenders where management gets to evaluate this team healthy for the first time this season.
Tonight’s game features the top three scorers in the game; Crosby (65pts), Stamkos (56pts), and St. Louis (51pts). Crosby is in the midst of a two game pointless streak.
10:35 a.m. – Morning Skate Update
The Penguins have hit the ice and went through their normal line rushes and breakouts.
Head coach Dan Bylsma will stick with Tyler Kennedy on the second line tonight and it appears that Chris Conner should get back into the lineup based off today’s skate and the past two practices.
Here’s how the lines lines setup:
Kunitz – Crosby – Dupuis
Kennedy – Staal – Malkin
Conner – Letestu – Cooke
Rupp – Talbot – Adams
The D-pairs remained the same with Ben Lovejoy working in as the extra.