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Insider Only Penguins @ Jets Pre-Game Buzz: Vokoun, Lovejoy in; Despres out; Kennedy gets opportunity; Lack of discipline concerning?



Marc Andre Fleury is 12-2-0 with a 2.06 goals-against average in his last 14 meetings against the Jets franchise (Previously Atlanta Thrashers) but Dan Bylsma will continue to go with an equal rotation between Fleury and Tomas Vokoun through the first four games this season.
The 36 year old Vokoun will get the start tonight against Winnipeg with the plan being for Fleury to be back in the net Sunday vs Ottawa. Vokoun made 31 saves Sunday night in the Penguins 6-3 win over the New York Rangers.
Vokoun is 14-10-4 with a 2.46 GAA in his career vs the Jets franchise.


There was some chatter prior to the Leafs game of Ben Lovejoy getting into the lineup and it will happen tonight as Lovejoy makes his season debut. “Ben is a guy who’s an NHL defenseman and has not been able to get in the first three games,” head coach Dan Bylsma said via Penguins website. “He’s going to get an opportunity to get in tonight. We think he’s going to add to our team and help us win a game tonight.”
With Lovejoy entering the lineup, Simon Despres will come out of the lineup and will be a healthy scratch on the backend with Robert Bortuzzo.
Bylsma has not been pleased with Despres consistency to open the season.
It remains to be seen when or if Bortuzzo will get an opportunity in the lineup this season if no injuries on the blueline pop up. No preseason games really hurt Bortuzzo’s chances to move into the top-6 as the team is only carrying him on the roster because he’s eligible for waivers and don’t want to lose him as they like his potential as a shutdown defenseman who can skate and is 6-foot-4.


Tyler Kennedy will get his opportunity tonight on Evgeni Malkin’s left wing as the Penguins yesterday demoted Eric Tangradi to the 4th line. It will be an adjustment for Kennedy who has rarely played the left side. {Neal} likes to play the right side,” Kennedy said on Thursday. “I’ll try the left side and see how it goes. I don’t think I’ve ever played on the left side.”
The one knock from many about Kennedy being a f with Malkin and Neal is that he shoots too much. Kennedy so far this season has just three shots.
“Skating and shooting pucks and try to get to the net,” Kennedy said on what he needs to do with 71 and 18. “I know both of them are shooters, so I’ve got to get to the net and jam in rebounds.”
Kennedy added following Thursday’s practice: “obviously if they’re open I’m going to pass, but if I got a shooting lane I’m going to shoot…… It doesn’t matter who I’m playing with.”


LACK OF FOCUS: What is mind boggling is the Penguins not being focused in Wednesday’s home opener. A few players used that excuse following Wednesday’s loss, namely Kris Letang who said the Penguins always think they are going to win when they play teams like Toronto, and head coach Dan Bylsma also felt the Penguins lacked focus against Toronto. “Our execution and focus wasn’t where it needed to be,” Bylsma said.
Staying Discipline: The Penguins penalty kill (88.2%) has been excellent to start the year but the Penguins continue to be plagued by taking too many penalties. They had 8 minors against Toronto and Brooks Orpik was spot on following the Leafs game in that taking Crosby, Neal, and Malkin off the ice by taking penalties isn’t a recipe for winning. “Having those three guys on the bench isn’t a good recipe for winning hockey games,” Orpik said. “We know in here we have to be a little more disciplined if we want to win hockey games.”
Jets at HOME: Winnipeg is a tough arena to play in as the place is always rocking and players say the fans feel like they are right on you, like players use to say about Mellon Arena. The Jets were 23-13-5 at home in 2011-12, however, they have lost five straight at Winnipeg and given up at least four goals in each. The Jets suffered a 4-1 home loss to Ottawa to open the year. Goaltender Ondrej Pavelec has a 2.27 GAA and .929 save percentage in three starts this season for Winnipeg but has lost 10 of 11 starts vs Pittsburgh.


Chris Kunitz – Sidney Crosby – Pascal Dupuis
Tyler Kennedy – Evgeni Malkin – James Neal
Tanner Glass – Brandon Sutter – Matt Cooke
Eric Tangradi – Joe Vitale – Craig Adams
Matt Niskanen – Kris Letang
Brooks Orpik – Paul Martin
Ben Lovejoy – Deryk Engelland
Tomas Vokoun in Goal

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at

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