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Insider Only Panthers @ Penguins: Post-Morning Skate Buzz, Game Notes & Stats Watch

Florida Panthers (1-0-0) vs. Pittsburgh Penguins (2-0-1)

When: 7:08 P.M. | Where: Consol Energy Center
TV: ROOT SPORTS, VERSUS, TSN2 | Radio: 105.9 The X
Referees: Chris Rooney (5); Marcus Vinnerborg (45) Linesmen: Steve Miller (89); Matt MacPherson (83)

Post-Morning Skate Buzz

Evgeni Malkin will miss his second straight game due to what is believed to be knee soreness. The Penguins do not believe the injury is serious.
*Without Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, the Penguins are 19-11-5 over the past two seasons. It has been the norm for the Penguins to play without Crosby and Malkin as the team has played 35 of their last 38 games without the two.
Malkin is averaging a point per game in his career vs. Florida, 4G-14A-18Pts in 18 games, while Crosby has 26 points in 21 career games vs. the Panthers.
*Speaking of Crosby, he spoke with reporters today following the morning skate and he is not scheduled to see a doctor for a regular checkup until later this week in what Crosby described as a normal checkup. There is no rush from Crosby or his team of doctors to clear him for contact.
The Penguins have posted a 25-13-6 record in 44 games without Crosby.
*Defenseman Brooks Orpik is not close to returning to game action and will not be cleared to resume practicing with his teammates until later in the week, head coach Dan Bylsma said today. Orpik who will miss his 4th straight game, surely won’t be available for the final two games this week, Thursday night against Washington and Saturday night against Buffalo.

Player Stats Watch

*Goaltender Marc Andre Fleury is 6-6-0 with a 3.10 GAA in his career vs. Florida. All-time in home openers, Fleury is 3-2-1 with a 2.15 GAA, a .939 save percentage and one shutout in six start.
*Winger Steve Sullivan has 9 goals and 19 points in 21 career games vs. Florida.
* Defenseman Ben Lovejoy has 2 goals and an assist, along with a +4 rating in five career games vs. Florida. Lovejoy is a plus-17 in his NHL career.
Jordan Staal is showing signs of maturing offensively, averaging a point per game with a goal and 2 assists on the season. Staal is averaging 0.71 points per game since January 1, 2011. Staal Had 30 points (10G-19A) over his final 37 games in 2010-11.
*Tyler Kennedy is making scouts believers that he is a true top-6 winger, at least in the Penguisn system. Kennedy scored his first goal of the season Saturday night and has 15 goals in his last 33 regular season games. On Sunday night, Kennedy picked up his first assist of the year and went 5-4 (56%) on faceoffs vs. the Edmonton Oilers on October 9th. He was a former center in juniors and in the minors, his natural position.
*Richard Park will be in the lineup for the second straight game, centering the 4th line. After struggling in the face off circle during the preseason, Park Went 7-5 (58.3%) on faceoffs and registered one shot on goal in 8:13 minutes of ice time in his season debut.

Pre-Game buzz: Struggles for Pens at Even Strength:

*Pittsburgh is 22-14-7 all-time in home openers and host the Florida Panthers in their home opener for the first time in team history.
The Penguins are 20-11-4 all-time vs. Florida at home and swept the Panthers last season, 4-0. (Nov. 22 at Fla (3-2); Dec. 22 at Pgh (5-2); March 27 at Pgh (2-1, SO); April 2 at Fla (4-2) – )
Sidney Crosby, Ben Lovejoy and Pascal Dupuis were tied for the team lead with two goals apiece. Goaltenders Marc- Andre Fleury (1.66GAA, .952SVP) and Brent Johnson (1.80GAA, .941SVP) went 2-0. Pittsburgh was a perfect 12-for-12 on the penalty kill.
Pittsburgh is 7-1 vs. Florida in this last eight home games and are 9-2 all-time vs. Florida under head coach Dan Bylsma. Pittsburgh has been excellent on the Penalty Kill against Florida, killing off 23 of 25 Florida power plays since the start of the 2009-2010 season.
Speaking of the Penguins penalty kill, they are a perfect 11-for-11 (100%) this season.
Special teams have helped fueled a 2-0-1 start for the Penguins. On the power play, the Penguins are 5-16, 31.2% (5th in NHL) and 5-for-15 in 5-on-4 situations.
Even Strength though has been a different story.

The Penguins have scored just two even strength goals and have surrendered a total of 7 even strength goals. The team is going to have to turn that trend as their special teams is bound to take a step back at some point.

Panthers Game Notes

LAST GAME: PANTHERS 2 AT ISLANDERS 0
The Panthers spoiled the New York Islanders home opener with a 2-0 win. C Stephen Weiss and D Jason Garrison scored, while D Brian Campbell added two assists on Saturday night. G Jose Theodore made 27 saves for a shutout, his sixth career shutout against the New York Islanders. Florida adjusted quickly to its new lineup, which featured 14 new faces, as compared to last season’s opening night roster.
*Florida G Jose Theodore recorded his first shutout with his new team in his first game with the Cats Saturday night at the Islanders. In doing so, Theodore became the first Panthers goalie in franchise history to notch a shutout in his first game with the team. Theodore stopped all 27 shots he faced as he picked up his 31st career shutout.
*Brian Campbell had a busy first game with the Panthers, logging an incredible 30:04 of ice time, more than five minutes more than the next closest Panther Jason Garrison (24:39). In addition, Campbell registered the primary assist on both Panther goals.
*This season marks the third consecutive year that the Panthers play more road games than home games in the month of October. This year, they will play seven of 11 on the road, bringing their total over the past three seasons to 20-of-32 away from home.
In his first game as an NHL head coach, Kevin Dineen got off to a good start with his first victory, a 2-0 shutout win over the New York Islanders on Oct. 8. On June 1, 2011, the Panthers announced the hiring of Dineen as the clubs 11th head coach in team history. Dineen spent the last six seasons as the head coach of the Portland Pirates (AHL), where he compiled a record of 266-155-59 with a .616 winning percentage, the best in franchise history. During his tenure with Portland, his teams won at least 40 games in four out of six seasons, along with a pair of division titles (2005-2006 &2010-2011) and two trips to the AHL’s Eastern Conference Finals (2005-2006 &2007-2008).
*It was a busy offseason for Florida that brought in many new faces. Sean Bergenheim, Matt Bradley, Brian Campbell, Tomas Fleischmann, Marcel Goc, Tomas Kopecky, Jose Theodore, Scottie Upshall, and Kris Versteeg all joined the Panthers lineup, and Ed Jovanovski made his return after starting his career in Florida.
*After making him the third overall selection in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, the Florida Panthers welcome Erik Gudbranson into the lineup this year. In his first NHL game, against the Islanders, he registered one shot on goal and logged 10:59 time on ice. Gudbranson spent the 2009-10 season in Kingston of the OHL, where he recorded 34 points and 105 penalty minutes in 44 games.
*The Panthers inked forward Jonathan Huberdeau to an entry-level contract Monday afternoon. The third overall pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft had an impressive pre-season for the club, recording four points (tied for team high), including three goals (team high) in five contests before being returned to Saint John of the QMJHL on October 3. Huberdeau has started where he left off last season (105 points in 67 games during regular season, QMJHL Playoff and Memorial Cup MVP) by recording five points (1-4-5) in two games this past weekend.

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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