Greetings to the Dear Readers from St. Louis, where the Penguins and Blues are set for what folks on both sides keep calling a “big game.” It would be a lot bigger game if it opened a series in June, but for now…
A look at the Penguins’ forwards and defensemen during their AM practice:
= The defense pairings were a bit jumbled with Paul Martin, who coach Dan Bylsma said will not play against the Blues. Martin had not practiced Friday.
Deryk Engelland, used mostly as a checking-line forward the last few weeks, worked in a rotation with the Penguins’ five other healthy full-time defensemen (Letang, Orpik, Niskanen, Maatta and Bortuzzo).
= RW James Neal (upper body) rotated line shifts with Bennett, who is set to play for the first time since Oct. 12. Bennett had been out with a lower-body injury.
Neal, out since Oct. 3, is working toward a potential return next week – though, the Penguins have not identified when he will play.
“I don’t have to show anything,” Neal said. “If I’m ready, I’m ready. I need to be as close to game shape as possible.”
Neal noted his summer workouts, which had him feeling better physically than to start any season, as being especially helpful right now.
“You obviously lose (conditioning when injured),” he said. “But I feel like there’s an ability to get back a little quicker.”
= Josh Yohe on the Olympics preview in this game: http://triblive.com/sports/penguins/5018238-74/crosby-backes-game#axzz2kBJe2AM7
Coming Sunday as part of #TribHKY coverage:
= As Hall-of-Fame immortality calls, Brendan Shanahan chaces something even more meaningful as head of NHL Player Safety.
= The Insider: Blues Russian sniper Vladimir Tarasenko isn’t thinking about the Olympics. Right, and he didn’t want to catch up with Evgeni Malkin, either.
= Yohe on What To Watch.
= The never-to-be-missed AHL Penguins notes from Jonathan Bombulie.
= Also, Rossi is in St. Louis with regular game coverage
Radio/TV appearances for Saturday and Sunday:
Rossi: SATURDAY – Root Sports Pittsburgh Penguins Pregame (7:45 p.m.); SUNDAY – Subway Final Word (after late local news, WPXI)
Be Excellent to each other,