Pre-game Buzz

Pittsburgh Penguins (28-17-1) @ Minnesota Wild (22-20-3)

Petr Sykora’s stint with the Minnesota Wild is following the pattern of his final couple months with the Pittsburgh Penguins; In the Press Box.
The 33 year old winger has two goals and one assist on the season in 13 games played. Sykora is averaging 12:01 of ice game, playing mostly in a 4th line role.
Sykora has been a healthy scratch the past two games and has not played since January 5th, after being a combined -4 in his previous three games. Sykora will not get a chance to face his former team tonight.
Sykor will be a healthy scratch for the third straight game and has been benched in favor of minor-leaguer Robbie Earl, who according to head coach Todd Richards, provides more speed up front.
Sykora did not see eye-to-eye with Dan Bylsma last season and he’s now at odds with Todd Richards. This is another pattern that is following Sykora during what appears to be the end of his NHL career.
This weekend, a tweet via twitter from his agent Allan Walsh has caused even more friction between Richards and Sykora.

Michael Russo reports of the Star Tribune reports, “Wild coach Todd Richards said Sunday he is likely to talk to veteran winger Petr Sykora privately to discuss why he has been scratched the past two games and talk about a comment his agent, Allan Walsh, made on Twitter the night before.”
“The coach is treating Sykora with less respect than a rookie,” Walsh tweeted on Saturday.
Russo reports, Sykora was told to arrive early in order to skate in pregame warmups on Saturday, after he was already informed that he was going to be scratched. Meanwhile, youngster James Sheppard, also intended as a scratch, did not have to skate in warmups on Saturday.
Sykora is being actively shopped and coule be placed on waivers in the near future.

Penguins morning skate update

*Pittsburgh had no changes on their top four lines this morning. I was told Max Talbot and Craig Adams alternated at center during the Penguins early rounds of line rushes.
Dupuis – Crosby – Guerin
Caputi – Malkin – Fedotenko
Cooke – Staal – Kennedy
Rupp – Talbot – Adams/Godard
Dan Bylsma is not a fan of messing with a winning lineup but with Wild enforcer Derek Boogaard expected to play, Godard took plenty of reps at right wing on the fourth line.
*Defenseman Brooks Orpik will not play tonight with a lower body injury. Orpik will be replaced in the lineup by defenseman Martin Skoula.
Skoula spent three full seasons with the Minnesota Wild (2006-2009) and is well liked by the Minnesota media.
*Mark Eaton and Sergei Gonchar will remain a pairing. Prior to Eaton suffering a season ending injury in late December 2007, Eaton was Gonchar’s primary partner as Orpik was paired with Ryan Whitney for much of the 2006-2007 season and early stages of the 2007-2008 season.
Marc Andre Fleury will be eyeing his 24th win of the season tonight.

Backstrom to start in goal

Goaltender Niklas Backstrom (19-14-3) will start in goal for the Wild. The Wild are 5-5 in their last 10 games and 14-6-1 at home this season.