PITTSBURGH — On the heels of last night’s 3-2 win, the Penguins are back on the ice this morning for their final workout before the team departs for Washington D.C., this afternoon.
On the injury front, as expected, no Arron Asham (shoulder) or Evgeni Malkin (knee) this morning. There has been no word from the team if there will be an update today on the extent of Malkin’s injury.
Malkin was scheduled to have an MRI to determine the severity of the injury.
Also not practicing is defenseman Zbynek Michalek.
The Penguins lines this morning are:
Kunitz – Jeffrey – Dupuis
Cooke – Staal – Kennedy
Rupp – Talbot – Conner
Tangradi – Adams – Godard
Martin – Lovejoy
Goligoski – Engelland
Pre Penguins-Capitals Tidbits
— Pittsburgh (34-15-4, 72pts) is 8-3-1 without Sidney Crosby and have now won 8 of 9 games as the team heads into Sunday’s matchup with the Washington Capitals (28-15-10, 66pts).
I know I’ve repeated this several times of late but Pittsburgh’s ability to defend and Marc Andre Fleury no longer being susceptible to that momentum killer goal has Pittsburgh not only maintaining without Sidney Crosby, but keeping them right in the mix with Philadelphia for the conference lead.
— What stood out to me from last night’s win against Buffalo was Pittsburgh’s ability to wear the Sabres down in the physical department.
The Penguins had 54 hits in the game and from a personnel standpoint, their physical prowess is another area of their game where they’re much improved from last season.
— Paul Martin’s game is really coming on and he’s been such a valuable player to the Penguins emerging as one of the elite defensive hockey team’s in hockey.
— Dustin Jeffrey scored his 4th goal of the season in last night’s win and he now has points in 4 of his last 5 games.
He’s one of those players whose hard to evaluated at times. There’s parts of his game where at times he looks sluggish or is holding onto the puck too long and doubts come about but he finds ways to produce. Can’t overlook that.
— Matt Cooke netted his 10th goal last night and the Penguins now have 6 players with 10 goals or more (Crosby, Malkin, Kunitz, Cooke, Dupuis, Letestu).
Several others are inching closer to that mark. Tyler Kennedy has goals in consecutive games and has 9 goals on the season as does Alex Goligoski.
Kris Letang only has 1 goal in his last 18 games but has 7 goals on the season and is on pace for 11 goals this season.
Pittsburgh last season had 11 players in double-digits. They project to be right around that mark again this year.
— The Washington Capitals come into Sunday game coming off a big 5-2 victory against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday night. In the win, Nicklas Backstrom had two goals and two assists and Alex Ovechkin scored a goal and added three assists.
It was big for the Capitals to not only have Ovechkin breakout but also Backstrom who has under-achieved significantly this season.
If the depleted Penguins can manage to steal a game from the Capitals, the Penguins will move 8 point ahead of the Capitals who are currently the No. 5 seed and would lead the season head-to-head matchup for the time being.