Tonight’s probable lines and defense pairings:
Chris Kunitz-Sidney Crosby-Pascal Dupuis
Jussi Jokinen-Evgeni Malkin-James Neal
Beau Bennett-Brandon Sutter-Matt D’Agostini
Tanner Glass-Joe Vitale-Craig Adams
Olli Maatta-Kris Letang
Brooks Orpik-Paul Martin
Matt Niskanen-Robert Bortuzzo
Maybe the whole Kris Letang-Olli Maatta pairing wasn’t a one-game experiment, but rather, is what the Penguins are planning on until Rob Scuderi returns. The duo looked good together in even strength situations against Philadelphia and should be together again tonight.
Otherwise, don’t look for any line changes, even though many of you are calling for them.
Mixed bag here. The good news is that Paul Martin skated again this morning and pronounced himself ready to go tonight. However, Letang was not present at the morning skate, and head coach Dan Bylsma said the defenseman has been ill for the past 24 hours. Still, Bylsma said that Letang is “probably” to play against the Predators.
= Seth Jones, the once-presumed top pick in the 2013 draft who stunningly slid to No. 4, will be in action tonight. He’s been very good so far this season.
= Paul Gaustad and Mike Fisher will be in the lineup tonight for the Predators, and both are among the more accomplished defensive centers in hockey. So, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, who have endured their share of troubles in recent games, probably won’t have it easy.
= A new sheet of ice was in use when the Flyers and Penguins played on Wednesday. It looked pretty awful, which is standard at Consol Energy Center. We’ll see how it looks tonight.
= With Marc-Andre Fleury in action tonight, and the Penguins facing an extremely busy stretch, one has to think Jeff Zatkoff is a good bet to play against Marty Brodeur and the Devils on Saturday.
Here’s Rossi’s notebook from today’s Trib: http://triblive.com/sports/penguins/5045705-74/bylsma-penguins-olympics#axzz2kjzmItOJ
Enjoy the hockey game, dear readers.
— Josh Yohe