Evgeni Malkin who has spoken much more this season and emerged as more of a leader, talked for almost five minutes after practice and expressed confidence in this group.
“I know everyone nervous right now. We got good team, good players. We still in,” Malkin said of the Penguins playoff position.
Malkin will have a new linemate in Friday’s game vs the New York Islanders as struggling winger David Perron will be bumped up to Malkin’s right wing with Chris Kunitz on on left wing
The two have not played together this season.
“I’m excited. He’s a good skilled player,” Malkin said. “He can pass, very structure guy, skilled guy. Just support each other and play sixty minutes.
Blake Comeau was dropped to the fourth line in today’s practice with Craig Adams and Max Lapierre.
Brandon Sutter centered Beau Bennett and Steve Downie.
Nick Spaling did not practice.
“CERTAIN GUYS” COSTING PENGUINS?
The positive outlook the Penguins are taking is they control their destiny.
“We have control of it, we’d rather be in control than not,” defenseman Paul Martin said. “We believe firmly in here we can get the job done.”
Some of the key players in the Penguins room have become frustrated with players taking shifts off and undisciplined play, just as the coaching staff has been frustrated for several weeks now.
Martin was among those today discussing the issue of “certain guys” doing what they want.
“I think just a consistent effort from everybody,” Martin said of what needs to change for the Penguins. “We have certain guys that show up every night and play the right way. Certain guys who decide to do their own things and sometimes that cost us in our d-zone.”
“[Need] just a commitment to certain guys playing right way, not taking shifts off or cheating that help other teams get momentum.”
LOTS OF LEADERSHIP TALK TODAY
Martin who has one foot out the door and is prepared to sign elsewhere this summer, for his part has been vocal in calling players out behind close doors, and has been looked at by the coaching staff as a key leader on the ice and in the room with Rob Scuderi.
“Who shows leadership in this group? “Certainly our captains, Sid is a big leader in both how he plays, demeanor,” Mike Johnston said. “We have other guys, people don’t always talk about that for me I see quite a bit of leadership. Marty, Scuderi on the backend.”
“They’ve [Rob Scuderi, Paul Martin] been a real anchor on our defense group,” Johnston said. “They really have been. Good with young guys, good with new guys, They add some calmness back there in the game.
Steve Downie is among those that frustrations have been expressed to from key leaders in the room, sources say.
Johnston on playing 10 forwards at ES vs Senators: “I found at end of second period, we got into a three line rotation, plus Beau Bennett was mixed into different spots. So I felt comfortable with three line rotation. Thought we were in a groove.” — Max Lapierre and Craig Adams each played under four minutes at even strength.
Johnston on current situation: “More about excitement than what happened last few games. Trying to make sure your team is focused on what we have to do as a team.”
“If you look at Ottawa game…. Gzz you look at our response in Ottawa, I thought it was great. Thought through two periods of play, we were pretty perfect in our game. Coming into that [Ottawa] game, did they have the energy? For sure….It looked like they [Penguins] had experience, had poise, played in these situations before. Based on that I believe the same thing will carry over for Islanders game.”
PENGUINS BACK TO PLAYING WITH 5 D
LATEST INJURY BUZZ
Derrick Pouliot is iffy to play tomorrow night vs the Islanders due to what is believed to be a shoulder strain. “It’s day to day,” Johnston said. The Penguins for now are anticipating playing with five D due to cap reasons.
Nick Spaling missed practice due to a lower body injury. “He should be fine.”
Christian Ehrhoff has not progressed to the point that the Penguins had hoped for over the last week. He has yet to start practicing with the team.
There was no update on Kris Letang. He was cleared to ride the bike early this week.