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Insider Only Post-Morning Skate Update: Pens not looking ahead to Capitals

While Capitals fans were chanting “We want Pittsburgh, ” We Want Pittsburgh, ” last night in Washington, the Penguins are keeping their eye on tonight’s game against the Florida Panthers and not looking ahead.
“We got a game tonight where we have a team who went into Philadelphia and won pretty handily and we have to be ready for them and not look forward to tomorrow night, ” Forward Mike Rupp said.
Tomas Voukon will get the start for Florida and has caused the Penguins problems in the past.
“Past experience for us is that there goaltender is going to be a big factor tonight, ” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “He’s a guy we’ve had to pepper with shots to just get a couple goals and that will be something we’re ready to do tonight.”
The Panthers are 8th in the NHL in goals against but are 17th in goals for per game as the Panthers still lack an elite talent upfront.
“When I look at their team, I see a quick fast kind of dirty group of forwards that like to forecheck to setup {their} offensive zone game, ” Bylsma said.
“I think that we’re built in a unique way, ” Rupp said. “If you want to have playground hockey we can do that….

“We can score, we can play defense and not have many opportunities against, but at the same time if a team wants to rough it up a little bit, we are more than welcome to do that. We are a well balanced team.”
In a game that coming in lacked buzz on a cold December night, Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby put on a show for the fans Monday night against Phoenix combining for 3 goals, 5 assists and 15 shots in the game.
While Crosby extended his points streak to 21 games and made a dazzling play off an offensive zone faceoff to setup Evgnei Malkin for his first goal of the game, the story of game and neccasairly the past couple days has been Evgeni Malkin who has 5 goals in 3 games since returning to the lineup last Tuesday.
The difference in Malkin has been his presence of skating with a purpose. It’s been noticable for about a week now and really caught my eye in Sunday’s practice when he had that extra jump in his skate that I haven’t seen for a very long time.
“He was playing unbelievable,” Captain Sidney Crosby said of Malkin, following Monday night’s game. “It’s really fun to see a teammate take over a game like that and when he is playing like that, I think he pushes everyone to raise their level. I was just trying to keep up with him and make sure that I was there to create things when he was open.”
What we have also seen from Malkin over the past three games is his ability to finish plays, something that has been lacking for over a year now.
With an energized Malkin, the Penguins hope this is a start of things to come.
*Dan Bylsma confirmed during his press conference that Brent Johnson will start in goal.
*There appears to be a chance that Eric Godard or Ben Lovejoy may dress tonight. Both alternated at their respective positions and Bylsma said he will go gametime.
*Bylsma talked about Dustin Jeffrey this morning and said that Jeffrey appears to have taken that next step and he’s been on a different level in the minors.
One area of Jeffrey’s game that Bylsma pointed out has improved is his skating ability, which even as late as last year was an area of concern.

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William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

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

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