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Insider Only Post-Morning Skate Buzz: Orpik to make season debut; Pens – Habs Stats Watch & more Tidbits

Montreal Canadiens (1 – 3 – 1 (3 pts) @ Pittsburgh Penguins (4-2-2 (10 pts)

When: 7:08 P.M. | Where: Consol Energy Center
TV: ROOT SPORTS; Radio: 105.9 the X
Referees: Stephane Auger (15); Kelly Sutherland (11) Linesmen Steve Miller (89); Jonny Murray (95)

Post-Morning Skate Buzz

Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik will make his season debut.
Orpik has missed the first eight games of the season after dealing with abdominal issues following hernia surgery.
Orpik was paired with Ben Lovejoy during the morning skate but head coach Dan Bylsma said during his media session that Orpik slated to be paired with Deryk Engelland for the most part.
James Neal who did not participate in the Penguins morning skate, will play tonight.
Pens Projected Lineup
Kunitz – Staal – Dupuis
Sullivan – Park – Neal
Cooke – Vitale – Asham
MacIntyre – Letestu – Adams
DEFENSEMEN
Martin – Michalek
Orpik – Engelland
Niskanen – Lovejoy
Marc Andre Fleury in goal
Injury Report: *Brian Strait is expected to be sidelined for a while. He suffered a left elbow injury according to head coach Dan Bylsma but the team doesn’t know his actual prognosis yet. He will rehab for a couple weeks according to Bylsma and go from there.
*Evgeni Malkin will miss his 6th game of the season and 4th straight game. He skated before the team’s morning skate and is still listed as day-to-day by the Pens.
*Sidney Crosby continues to progress according to Bylsma. Crosby participated in the morning skate, centering Richard Park and Steve Sullivan.
*Tyler Kennedy will miss his third straight game due to a concussion.
*Dustin Jeffrey participated in the morning skate but did not take any line rushes. Jeffrey said he is waiting for clearance from the team’s staff to return to game action. Dan Bylsma said today that Jeffrey is close to playing.
Importance of Special Teams on Penguins 4-2-2 start
How big has special teams been for the Penguins. At even strength the Penguins have given up 17 goals, while scoring just 11 even strength goals in eight games.
Pittsburgh has scored a power play goal in five of eight games, going 7-for-32 (21.9%), 9th NHL.
The Penalty kill has been the story for the Penguins. Few teams can dictate the play on the PK like Pittsburgh can and the team is 26-for-27 (96.3%), 1st in NHL and a remarkable 20-for-20 on the road.
Stats Watch
*The Penguins have struggled against the Canadiens in the past couple seasons, posting a 1-2-1 overall record against Montreal last season –including a 0-2 mark at CONSOL Energy Center and a 1-0-1 record at the Molson Centre.
Including playoffs, Montreal is 6-2 in their last 8 games vs Pittsburgh.
*Tonight, Montreal defenseman, and former Penguin, Hal Gill will appear in his 1,000th career NHL game. The Penguins are expected to honor Gill.
All four Penguin centermen were 50% or better in the face-off circle in the team’s 4-2 win over Minnesota on Tuesday night. Jordan Staal has won 34 of 56 draws in his last 4 games (60.7%). Joe Vitale, Richard Park, Mark Letestu and Jordan Staal are all over 50% on draws this season.
By Numbers: Joe Vitale 54-41 (56.4%) | Richard Park 40-31 (56.3%) | Mark Letestu 50-41 (54.9%) | Jordan Staal 66-63 (51.2%) | Evgeni Malkin 22-32 40.7% | Craig Adams 12-10 (54.5%)
*Jordan Staal has 6 points (3G – 3A) in his first eight games and is on pace for a career season. Staal had tallied 36 points in his last 44 games, an average of 0.82 points per game.
*Matt Cooke (3 assists) and Zbynek Michalek (1 goal, 1 assist) each enter tonight’s game on two game points streaks.
*Tonight will mark the 50th straight game that the Penguins will play without Sidney Crosby. The Penguins are 27-15-7 in that span (.622 pct.). Crosby skated this morning and continues look sharp.
*The Penguins have played 39 of their last 43 games without both Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby. Tonight will mark the 40th time in 44 games.
*Pittsburgh has 31 man games lost on the season, headlined by Sidney Crosby and Brooks Orpik being sidelined for the first eight games of the season.
Player Head to Head Stats
*Goaltender Marc Andre Fleury (3-2-0, 2.58 GAA) has not had great numbers against his hometown team. Fleury is 10-8-1 with a 3.44 GAA and .884 save percentage in his career vs Montreal.
*Chris Kunitz (1G-2A-3Pts) is averaging nearly a point per game in his career vs Montreal, collecting 4 goals and 5 assists in 10 career games vs Montreal.
*Steve Sullivan (0G-2A-2Pts) has 11 goals, 18 points in 23 career games vs Montreal.
*Habs goaltender Carey Price (1-3-1, 2.78 GAA) is 7-5-0 with a 2.65 GAA and .917 save percentage vs Pittsburgh.
*Scott Gomez (0-1-1 Pts) has 53 career points vs Pittsburgh in 63 games
*Brian Gionta (1G-2A-3Pts) has 15 goals and 34 points vs Pittsburgh.

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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