Forwards Nick Johnson and Chris Conner were re-assigned to Wilkes Barre/Scranton immediately following the Penguins 4-2 win Monday night but that doesn’t mean at least one of them will be back with the “Big Club” for Thursday’s game.
Due to the Penguins having no wiggle room in the salary cap, and wanting to leave at least $750,000 per day in cap space, in the event of a potential move, Johnson or Conner don’t get the luxury of sticking around in Pittsburgh for a few days while Max Talbot, Bill Guerin and Eric Godard nurse injuries.
However, Max Talbot (lower body) is regarded as highly doubtful to play Thursday night as he remains very limited. Talbot has been optimistic to return this week but Sunday is a much more reasonable target date.
Therefore, Johnson or Conner are likely to get the annual 24 hour callup again.
*Ruslan Fedotenko and Craig Adams have a team worst minus-8 rating but Pittsburgh only has two other regulars with a minus rating; Sergei Gonchar (minus-4) and Max Talbot (minus-2)
*You can point to Matt Cooke and Evgeni Malkin for the Penguins sudden resurgence on the power play.
Malkin is finally shooting the puck with velocity from the right circle and not being tentative, while Matt Cooke has provided the net presence that the Penguins have lacked the entire season.
Pittsburgh has failed to get consistent traffic in front of the net on the power play which has been their Achilles heel all season.
*Dan Bylsma has talked in recent days how the team is “paying attention to the details” as the Penguins have put together two straight 60 minute games.
After giving up 16 goals in three games, Pittsburgh play in D-zone has been strong over the past two games, giving up only 3 goals during that span.
There has been a stronger commitment from the forwards of late in the defensive zone and that must continue or Pittsburgh will be back to giving up 3-to-4 goals a game.
*Spoke to a team source this afternoon who said Billy Guerin’s injury is an upper body injury that been bothering him for a couple weeks. Penguins expect him to be fine and he just needs some rest. The Olympic break will be a blessing for Guerin.
There was no update on Alex Goligoski or Eric Godard. The Penguins return to the ice tomorrow morning.
Thursday night’s game against the surging Ottawa Senators is expected to be heavily scouted, a team rep tells. Eight teams have currently put in their credentials.
Last season former Penguin Colby Armstrong was linked to Pittsburgh. Not the case this year. Asking price is too high for Pittsburgh’s liking.
Armstrong did score 22 goals last season but is having a down year.
Pittsburgh will be able to manuever enough cap room to land a $3.5-$4.5 million player at the trade deadline if they want, due to pro-rated salaries, but they will have to get a bit creative to go beyond a $5 million+ a year player.