Kovalev speaks on return to Pens.


A quick update, but before reading from RW Alex Kovalev, some other roster news regarding the Penguins:

= They have recalled D Brian Strait from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the AHL. He will play tonight at Carolina. The Penguins arrived in Raleigh, N.C., Thursday night with only five healthy defensemen. D Paul Martin (right shoulder/neck) said he was optimistic of playing Saturday at Toronto, but he won’t play tonight. Martin was paired with D Kris Letang at practice Thursday. The other pairings were Zbynek Michalek and Deryk Engelland, Matt Niskanen-Ben Lovejoy.


= Now for some tidbits from Kovalev, who called me this morning — leading to this story: http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/breaking/s_724648.html

* He expects to wear No. 72, a number he has only donned in the NHL during All-Star Games. He laughed at what it might take to pry No. 27 from RW Craig Adams. “We’ll have that talk this morning,” Kovalev said.

* He flew to Raleigh Thursday night on his private jet. He is an expert pilot. “The weather wasn’t great, so it took me a while.” he said.

*On why fans should believe he can impact this team: “An older guy has more experience. You learn things over time, learn how to do things better. I’m better now to help in all situations, not just scoring.”

* He sees his fit within coach Dan Bylsma’s system as a natural one. “We haven’t discussed my role too much, but I know they need some help scoring some goals,” he said. “We’ll try that and go from there.”

* By the way, Bylsma told me yesterday that he envisioned Kovalev on a line with C Jordan Staal and LW James Neal.


Now for some other notes…

= Thanks to all of you who pointed out that I had Neal referred to as Ryan Neal in this article: http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_724556.html

Fix has been made. No excuses on my end. For some reason I’ve been stuck on “Ryan” Neal since the Penguins landed James. This may have a lot to do with the lack of sleep I’ve had during this deadline period.