Some quick-hit notes as I sit in the press box at St. Pete Times Forum. I arrived in Tampa (from sizzling St. Louis, where I’m pretty sure Mizzou fans are still drinking) just in time for a Sunday morning practice, and now I’m at the Predators-Lightning game working on a story to run Tuesday. Why, dear readers might ask, would I write a story about one of these team when I cover the Penguins. Well, for that you’ll have to keep reading…
• You won’t have to keep reading long, though. The Penguins are off Monday, getting a deserved break in the FLA sunshine. They’ve played nine games in 17 games, and though coach Dan Bylsma said today he likes playing a lot of games early in the season, count me as the reporter who thinks three days without a game will do this team some good. I feel even better predicting that after the games at Nashville and St. Louis — two of the better-paced regular-season games I’ve covered. (Actually, I’m not sure that game at Nashville wasn’t the best game I’ve covered in the regular season. Certainly it is a rare one players have talked about days later.)
• The Penguins had 25 guys on the ice today for practice, and it looks like RW Arron Asham (left shoulder) will give it a go Wednesday night. If so, who sits? Well, LW Eric Tangradi doesn’t need to clear waivers, so the Penguins can play it safe and re-assign him to the AHL. They also can chop a defenseman, likely Andrew Hutchinson, because eight practiced today. D Zbynek Michalek participated in a full session, and noted that Monday will be the two-week anniversary of when he sustained the injury in a win at New Jersey. I wrote about this roster situation for tomorrow, and, yes, dear readers, you’ll have to wait to read.
• Two personal notes:
1. Syracuse!!! Uncle. Just, Uncle!
2. A belated HBD to my sister, Lisa, who I’m confident celebrated in grand style on Saturday. My asthma was winning that day, so the blog took a backseat — and thus sis missed her yearly shout-out. I’m sure she was relieved as last year’s version misidentified her age. Clearly, I’m the world’s greatest brother in the world. Anyway, this year’s birthday wish is a day late, but at least I’m not making her a year older than she already is. Or was.
• D Brooks Orpik and I have a sports team in common: the San Francisco Giants. He was born in the Bay Area, and I just adopted the Giants when Barry Bonds left the Pirates to play for them in 1992. This being known, I told Orpik today that I’m Texas Rangers all the way in the World Series. Pittsburgh’s own Chuck Greenberg is a majority co-owner of the Rangers, and the opportunities to use Pittsburgh and World Series in the same sentence are so scarce that I just had to use this blog as a forum for that.
Speaking of Orpik, he told me after practice today that he “felt really good” less than 24 hours after returning from a six-game absence because of a groin injury. “Talk about being thrown to the fire, though,” he said, referring to the swift pace of that overtime loss at St. Louis.
• It used to be that I had trouble seeing WPA’s own Ryan Malone wearing a uniform that didn’t include a Skating Penguin crest. Now he’s not even wearing his own number, having given it to Lightning LW Simon Gagne. Malone is wearing No. 6, which if you multiply it by three gives you the number of his tattoos. I think. I’ll have to ask him what the new count is, actually.
Speaking of tattoos, my left-leg Spider-Man was a topic of conversation for many Penguins today. I’m still not sure if G Marc-Andre Fleury was paying me a compliment or a backhanded insult when he said, “That could be pretty cool.”