Tonight’s probably lines and defense pairings:
Chris Kunitz-Sidney Crosby-Pascal Dupuis
Jussi Jokinen-Evgeni Malkin-Chuck Kobasew
Tanner Glass-Brandon Sutter-Jayson Megna
Craig Adams-Joe Vitale-Deryk Engelland
Rob Scuderi-Kris Letang
Brooks Orpik-Paul Martin
Olli Maatta-Matt Niskanen
The Penguins haven’t stated that they are displeased with forward Dustin Jeffrey’s work, but he’s sure having a hard time cracking the lineup. In an uncharacteristic move, coach Dan Bylsma actually showed his lineup hand by announcing that Deryk Engelland will again be in the lineup at forward.
Meanwhile, Jeff Zatkoff will start his second career NHL game only one day after Bylsma strongly hinted that Marc-Andre Fleury would play against the Islanders.
Also of note, as if you didn’t know, Kris Letang is back in the lineup tonight. (Ladies: His hair is in mid-season form.)
The Penguins are starting to get healthy with Letang back in the lineup and Matt D’Agostini a pretty fair bet to play in Toronto on Saturday. James Neal still isn’t skating and it seems likely that he will miss at least another week of action.
Beau Bennett’s situation is slightly more difficult to gauge, but he won’t play this weekend.
Watch For This N’ At
= The Islanders’ team speed generally gives the Penguins fits. However, with Michael Grabner out of the Islanders lineup and Letang returning, the Penguins shouldn’t be at too much of a disadvantage.
= It is well known that Sidney Crosby routinely destroys the Flyers, but his most career points have actually come against the Islanders. Of course, he’s never registered a regular season goal against Evgeni Nabakov, who will start for New York tonight. It’s only a matter of time before that stat is erased, one would think.
= Olli Maatta is playing tonight. But you already knew that.
Rob Rossi on the Olli Maatta decision: http://triblive.com/sports/penguins/4936222-74/maatta-penguins-shero#axzz2ikgKVwQE
Dejan Kovacevic with his thoughts on his Maann Crush, Olli Maatta: http://triblive.com/sports/dejankovacevic/dejancolumns/4936053-74/maatta-penguins-game#axzz2ikgKVwQE
You can hear me today at 3:40 p.m. on Penguins Live with Steve Kolbe.
Assuming Rossi doesn’t get detained crossing the border tonight, he’ll bring you Penguins-Leafs action on Saturday night from the Air Canada CenTER.
I’ll be back with you Monday night in Raleigh.
Enjoy the hockey game, dear readers.