Post-Morning Skate Report
PITTSBURGH — Here are some post-morning skate notes from Consol:
— Defenseman Ben Lovejoy will return to the lineup for the first time since the All-Star break. After appearing in the final three games before the break, Lovejoy has been a healthy scratch for the past four games.
He will replace Deryk Engelland in the lineup tonight.
— Is Eric Tangradi going to be a healthy scratch tonight?
Whether Dan Bylsma was just looking to send a message remains to be seen but Tangradi remained on the ice going through individual workouts that the scratches go through with head coach Todd Reirden and Deryk Engelland who will get the night off.
Another note of interest, during line rushes, Tim Wallace moved from right wing to left wing in Tangradi’s spot, while Tangradi alternated with Eric Godard at right wing.
Tangradi has not performed well by any means since being called up last Wednesday. His lack of skating remains a hindrance in his development and he has looked overmatched for the most part.
There is some chatter that the Pens are considering sending back to Wilkes Barre/Scranton, which appears to be the best option.
— Dan Bylsma again today came to Matt Cooke’s defense in regards to his hit on Alexander Ovechkin and said that he has moved on from the hit.
“My comments remain the same, ” Bylsma said. “I don’t think Cooke made a lot of contact with Ovechkin. I know their skates came together….But I’ve been watching the Columbus tape the last day and a half, so I’m focused on this game tonight and not back there.”
— The Penguins have shown for the bulk of the season that they are built this season through their defensive play. Dan Bylsma contends that no one has noticed until now.
“I’ve been trying to convince the media that we were interested in playing defense this whole time. It has taken the absence of our star players to have you focus on the fact that we can play defense as well.
“We are right up their in goals against in the league. The penalty kill…. we take a lot of pride in the way we play defense as a group with the five guys on the ice and the six defensemen that we have on a given night are capable of being a very good defensive team.
“We’re getting a lot of focus now with the absence of Crosby and Malkin. We believe and take pride in playing that defense all year. We want to be a good, hard defensive team, and a tough team to play against. It’s showing up in the last 10 games with the success we’ve had.”