I’m being told that the coaching staff is leaning towards making Max Talbot a healthy scratch tonight and that Chris Kunitz will return to the lineup tonight against the Florida Panthers.
To no surprise, Kunitz has reclaimed his spot on the top line with Sidney Crosby and Bill Guerin. Kunitz went through a hard skate on Friday and barring a setback this evening when Kunitz will be evaluated prior to gametime, it’s a good bet he returns to the lineup for the first time since November 12th.
Kunitz is officially listed by the team as a game time decision.
Michael Rupp will be back on the 4th line as Pascal Dupuis will skate with Evgeni Malkin and Ruslan Fedotenko on the second line.
As expected, Brent Johnson is a strong candidate to start tonight against the Panthers.
All 13 forwards have been told that they will participate in warmups.
Talbot or Godard?
A reason Max Talbot appears to be the player who will sit tonight is that he was the extra forward on the fourth line in nearly every line rush and Talbot was on on the ice last with Martin Skoula, and Marc Andre Fleury, a strong indication that neither player will be in the lineup tonight.
However, Bylsma could always have a change of heart come game time. The decision to play Godard would be based solely on the Panthers group of physical defensemen.
*Sergei Gonchar skated today after not practicing on Friday.