Thoughts after hearing Pens folks talks at AM practice.


= D KRIS LETANG is a game-time decision because of illness. Letang didn’t practice, and if he can’t play D ALEX GOLIGOSKI will likely pair with D DERYK ENGELLAND, with D PAUL MARTIN and D BEN LOVEJOYtogether. Goligoski said he meshed well with Engelland when they played together during the 2006-07 season at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

= Coach DAN BYLSMA said RW ARRON ASHAM is on the IR with that bum shoulder — er, uh, upper-body injury. Bylsma said Asham wanted to play tonight against the Flyers, his former team, but more evaluation of his injury forced the Penguins to place him on IR. Asham was injured last Friday at Chicago. His IR designation can be retroactive to Saturday, meaning he could play this Saturday against Montreal at home (if healthy).

= LW ERIC TANGRADIspent last night at a Holiday Inn in Wheeling, W.Va., after he learned at 6 p.m. that the Penguins had assigned him to their ECHL affiliate. He said not a whole lot was said about the assignment then, “only that (he) was going to Wheeling.” Tangradi received a call early today informing him he was being recalled to the NHL, and he will play tonight against the Flyers.

Here is Bylsma’s take: “We hoped Arron could play but possibly knew he wouldn’t be able to. We sent Eric to Wheeling in case this was the possiblity, so that he could be back here in two hours instead of 10 hours to Wilkes-Barre.”

Reasonable enough; but I was curious on Bylsma’s thoughts about unnecessary clutter inside Tangradi’s head last night as he could have been prepping for his first NHL home game, one that would be played in front of family and friends who were set to travel to Pittsburgh from Philadelphia.

“I think things will be bouncing off his head regardless of the situation,” Bylsma said.

Tangradi had the look of a player trying to say the right things after practice today. Given Bylsma’s response to a questions I asked about Tangardi’s roster spot being directly tied to Asham’s health, perhaps saying the right things is Tangradi’s smart play.

“It’s a great question, and I think that will play itself out a little bit considering how our team plays, how everyone plays and how Eric fits with Arron Asham comes back,” Bylsma said.

I don’t suspect the Penguins are trying to send Tangradi, their top forward prospect, a message. If they are, though, perphaps sending a clearer one would be beneficial to a player who turned in a solid camp, a player who is supposed to be a big part of their future.

= The second part of Wednesday’s surprising roster moves, the recall of G PATRICK KILLEEN from Wheeling, was explained by Bylsma as giving Killeen a chance to work with goaltending coach GILLES MELOCHE. Uh, yeah, sorry, but I don’t buy that for one second.

My guess is I — and as an extension, the dear readers — will never know the real reasons behind Wednesday night’s actions, because nobody in the organization is going to come clean. I’ll keep digging, though. I have a hard time believing it was so important to get Killeen some time with Meloche that he drove two hours last night to spend less than an hour on the ice with Meloche today.

= Bylsma said there is a five-man competition to occupy the net-front presence on the power play. He wouldn’t reveal those five players, but my guess is they are: LWs CHRIS KUNITZ, MATT COOKEMIKE RUPPand Tangradi, and C MIKE COMRIE.

“That position has been explained very specifically, and the person who does it best will be there,” Bylsma said. “(It’s about) standing in front of the goalie.”


Enjoy tonight if you’re going.