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Insider Only Pens – Flyers Post Morning Skate Buzz: D-men informed team is dressing 7-D in Game 5 & more Tidbits

Post-Morning Skate Buzz
With Paul Martin out, the Pittsburgh Penguins will dress seven defensemen for the second straight game, two players said following the morning skate.

Defensemen Simon Despres and Brian Strait have both been informed that they will be in the lineup and the team is dressing seven defensemen tonight. The Penguins are 7-2 all-time under Dan Bylsma when he dresses seven D in the playoffs.
Who that leaves out upfront remains to be seen as Eric Tangradi had yet to be told whether he’d be in the lineup. The odd-man out off the top-4 lines from the morning skate is expected to be Tangradi or Richard Park.
UPDATED 12:20 P.M.
Ilya Bryzgalov will start in goal for the Flyers, despite dealing with a foot injury and a reported hip injury.
Bryzgalov is 3-1 with a 4.96 GAA and .844 save percentage in the series.
“He’s going to be great tonight. He’s focused, ” star center Claude Giroux said.
— Meanwhile, defenseman Nicklas Grossman won’t be in the lineup tonight due to a concussion, a big blow for the Flyers as Grossman works a No. 1 pair with Braydon Coburn. Pens head coach Dan Bylsma said he will look to use the loss of Grossman to his advantage with the last change. Eric Gustafsson will be in the lineup, replacing Grossman.
— It appears that Zach Rinaldo might be a healthy scratch tonight. Rinaldo stayed on the ice late with the coaches and Jody Shelly going through drills. However, James Van Riemsdyk did not participate in the optional skate but had been expected to be in the lineup tonight, making his series debut. If JVR is a no go, Rinaldo will stay in the lineup.
— Defenseman Simon Despres is looking to keep it simple again tonight, appearing in his second straight game. “Felt pretty good, kept it simple and big win for us, ” Despres said today on the Game 4 win. Despres who told me he’s been informed that he will be in the lineup, said he will work the point on the second power play unit, while Brian Strait is expected to see more defensive situations with Deryk Engelland.
“It’s great to see we have so many D and can step in, ” Zbynek Michalek said.
While of course head coach Dan Bylsma wouldn’t confirm his lineup, Bylsma spoke highly again today of using seven defensemen. “I think in situation we had last game and we have again tonight with Paul Martin not playing, second power play guy Paul has been for us, having seven defensemen helped us in different spots. That’s why it was a positive and could be again, ” Bylsma said.
— The Penguins were a loose bunch this morning and have some confidence in their ability to defend. “We know not giving up goal last 40 minutes {of game 4} was big for our team, ” Bylsma said.
“When they have the puck they go on the forecheck, they like to chip in and forecheck hard, and we did a better job of taking care of the puck and limiting their opportunities of dumping the puck in. We did good job of getting pucks and communication was big for us, ” Michalek said on Pittsburgh improving their puck control in Game 4.
Good puck control is something the Penguins feel they have to do again tonight. “Felt we had control of the puck and just played our game, ” Jordan Staal said. “That’s the way we like to play the game.”
5-on-5 PLAY
— While the Penguins are feeling better about their ability to defend, that’s an area Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette has been stressing to his hockey club in the past 24 hours. “We have to play good defense tonight, ” Laviolette said, and he wants to see more effective 5-on-5 time from his team. At 5-on-5 the Penguins are a +4, with 13 goals and 9 goals against, while the Flyers are a -4, giving up 13 goals and scoring 9.
— The Flyers enter tonight’s game 9-15 on the power play, clicking at 60%. “Our penalty kill is going to have to win us a game, ” Bylsma said.
— Bylsma on what needs to happen tonight: “The building needs to be at the bes and the fans need to be at their best.”
— Bylsma on the Penguins focus: “We have one game and that’s all we’re focused on. We need to be at our best.”


*The Penguins are 2-6 all-time when they trail a series 3-1
Philadelphia is 14-7 in Game 5’s when lead a series 3-1.
*At even strength situations (5-on-5 or 4-on-4) Pittsburgh has outscored Philadelphia 15-11
*Since Dec 23rd, Jordan Staal has notched 18 goals and 21 assists for 39 points in his last 37 games played. Staal is tied for the playoff lead in goals with 5.
*Evgeni Malkin is 39-29 in the faceoff circle, a percentage of 57.4% in the series. Pittsburgh’s top-4 centermen are all over 50%: Craig Adams (62.5%), Malkin (57.4%), Crosby (53.6%), Jordan Staal (51.4%)
*Goaltender Marc Andre Fleury is 5-4 all-time in games when he is facing elimination. In those nine games, Fleury has posted a .915 save percentage with a 2.29 goals against average.

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William DePaoli

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

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