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Insider Only Penguins Morning Skate Buzz: Martin expected to play; Eaton over Despres tonight?

nhl_g_flyers-penguins_mb_576MORNING SKATE BUZZ

Penguins (15-8-0, 30 pts) @ Flyers (11-12-1, 23 pts)
Penguins defenseman Paul Martin is expected back in the lineup tonight vs the Philadelphia Flyers and the question leading up to tonight’s game has been who comes out of the lineup?
Word from the Penguins morning skate is all signs point to Mark Eaton staying in the lineup after having a strong game on Monday night and getting high praise from head coach Dan Bylsma.

The odd man out appears to be Simon Despres who skated as the 4th pairing with Robert Bortuzzo. In addition to appearing like a healthy scratch tonight, Despres left the morning skate after about 30 minutes with what head coach Dan Bylsma told reporters was a fingernail issue.
As for the pairings, Paul Martin was paired with Brooks Orpik, Matt Niskanen with Kris Letang and Mark Eaton with Deryk Engelland. There are no indications that Matt Niskanen or Deryk Engelland are in danger of sitting. The Penguins are 13-4 with Despres in the lineup and the 21 year old blueliner is playing great hockey over his last two games.
Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma as always called his lineup game time tonight.
For the Flyers, Nicklas Grossman is expected to play after suffering a lower body injury Tuesday night and forward Matt Read will return to the lineup.
The goaltending matchup tonight will be Ilya Bryzgalov vs Marc Andre Fleury. Fleury is an impressive 52-18-10 with 2.35 GAA in his career in the month of March.
The Penguins can move nine points ahead of the Flyers in the Atlantic Division with a win tonight. Pittsburgh hits the halfway mark of the season tonight and at the mid-point are the favorites to win the Atlantic Division.
Flyers captain Claude Giroux yesterday called tonight’s game for Philadelphia the biggest of the season. “All of our games are big but the next game {vs Pittsburgh} is going to be the biggest game of the season,” Giroux said. “We need to find a way to motivate ourselves whoever the other team is and we have to find a way to play our best and keep getting better as a team.”
One storyline for the Penguins tonight is Beau Bennett being moved to the second line with Evgeni Malkin and James Neal. There’s no denying Bennett has the skill to play with Malkin and Neal now, but some question whether there’s going to be a good enough forechecking presence on that line. Neither Malkin or Neal are forecheckers first. They are at their best when a Chris Kunitz type player can retrive pucks for them.

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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