Pittsburgh Penguins (42-21-5, 89 pts) @ New York Rangers (44-18-7, 95 pts)
MORNING SKATE BUZZ
An odd situation for the Penguins to be in tonight. They will be at full strength and the opposition won’t be.
The Penguins are getting a big break tonight as the New York Rangers will be missing three of their top players in goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, defenseman Michael Del Zotto and captain Ryan Callahan.
Lundqvist who’s recovering from the flu, participated in the Rangers morning skate but head coach John Tortorella will give him another night off. Marty Biron gets the start in goal. He is 12-4-2, 2.23 GAA, .910 sv%.
Meanwhile, the Penguins will be at full strength. Not only is Sidney Crosby returning to the lineup but Kris Letang will also play for the first time this month after dealing with some minor symptoms on a hit from Erik Nystrom on February 29th.
While Crosby will center Matt Cooke and Tyler Kennedy, Kris Letang will work with Paul Martin as tonight’s No. 2 pairing.
The Penguins top power play unit will feature Kris Letang and Sidney Crosby at the points with Chris Kunitz – James Neal and Evgeni Malkin down low.
Chris Kunitz – Evgeni Malkin – James Neal
Steve Sullivan – Jordan Staal – Pascal Dupuis
Matt Cooke – Sidney Crosby – Tyler Kennedy
Arron Asham – Joe Vitale – Craig Adams
Brooks Orpik – Zbynek Michalek
Paul Martin – Kris Letang
Matt Niskanen – Deryk Engelland
Marc Andre Fleury to start in goal
Expected Scratches: Eric Tangradi, Richard Park, Ben Lovejoy
RANGERS DOWNPLAYING RETURN OF CROSBY
The New York Rangers have come into tonight’s game trying to downplay the return of Sidney Crosby.
“We don’t think about (Sidney Crosby), because we don’t really care about him,” forward Brandon Dubinsky told reporters after the team’s morning skate on Thursday. “We know they’re a good team. We have to respect them for being a good team. I don’t think we care who’s in their lineup,” he said.
“You’re not going to get me to bite on it because I think it’s a bunch of bullshit. I have no comment on the Penguins.” — Rangers head coach John Tortorella told reporters on calling Sidney Crosby’s return just another game.