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Rossi: Zatkoff gets call, Neal getting shots through, and Letang off 1st PP (seemingly).


Greetings from the corner of Fifth Avenue and Washington Place, where the Penguins are set to practice for their game against the New York Islanders at Consol Energy Center.

It is a rainy one, Dear Readers, so adjust accordingly…




Projections based off the AM skate…

>> Coach Dan Bylsma said Jeff Zatkoff will start in goal. As always, all other decision are “game-time,” but here is how the lines looked this morning:











>> Jussi Jokinen had never played the right side with Sutter before the recent lines shakeup. He said that their days as linemates with Carolina had him on the left wing.

Jokinen still doesn’t think he has played defense in the NHL, but he sounds like he isn’t so sure.

>> James Neal agreed he has felt like his old self over the past week. On the ice, though, is where he has looked the most like himself. Nine of his 16 attempted shots (56 percent) have made their way onto the net over the last three contests. He had attempted 11 shots in his first two games after missing 14 in a row because of a strained oblique, but only five (45 percent) found their way through.

Neal playfully predicted an end to Evgeni Malkin’s 15-game goal drought. Both players seemed to be in good spirits after the skate.

>> The Penguins have allowed two or fewer goals in 15 games. They have scored more than three goals in 16 games, but only three times in seven contests. Bylsma noted the adjustment forwards are undergoing with an offensive attack that is based more on transition because of the defensive emphasis in the neutral zone.

>> Kris Letang did not practice with the first power-play unit. He believed the power play was one area he dramatically improved last season, which resulted in a Norris Trophy nomination.

This is a situation worth watching, as Letang did not looked pleased after the skate – and Bylsma notably praised his recent play in his daily update.




A look at the #TribHKY Headlines from Friday:

>> He’s in net tonight, and Jeff Zatkoff will have his teammates’ confidence:

>> The Piece is making progress, sort of:




TV/Radio appearances for Friday…

ROSSI: Radio – TribLive with Ken Laird and John Steigerwald (12:15 p.m.,; Savran on Sports with “The Godfather” Stan Savran (12:30 p.m., 970-AM); Penguins Live with Brian Metzer (5:20 p.m.,; TV – NHL Live with Steve Mears and E.J. Hradek (6 p.m., NHL Network); Penguins Pregame Show (6:45 p.m., Root Sports Pittsburgh)




Good luck, Anya Maciulewski.

Her story can be found here:



Be EXCELLENT to each other,




Author: Rob Rossi

Rob Rossi is the lead sports columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has been called many names, but “Rossi” is the one to which he most often responds. He joined the Trib in November 2002 and was promoted to the columnist role in July 2014. Previously, he had covered the NHL’s Penguins (2006-14) and MLB’s Pirates (2006), while also working on beats associated with the NFL’s Steelers (2005-06) and the NCAA’s Pitt (2004-06). He has won national and local awards for his coverage of youth concussions and athletes’ charities. Also, he is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association executive committee and the Pittsburgh chapter chair. Raised in Crafton and Green Tree and a graduate of West Virginia University, he has covered a Super Bowl, All-Star Games in baseball and hockey, the NCAA basketball tournament and over 100 Stanley Cup playoff games, including the Cup Final twice. Oh, and his sports reporting has led him to brief chats with Mick Jagger and Bruce Springsteen; so that’s pretty cool. He is a regular contributor on TV with WPXI, Root Sports Pittsburgh and TSN. Also, he is the authorized biographer of Penguins star Evgeni Malkin.

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