Philip Samuelsson had a nervous start to his Monday, falling during a practice drill at Consol Energy Center.
That, Samuelsson said, was his remember-this takeaway from finally playing in the NHL.
Samuelsson, a second-round draft pick by the Penguins in 2009, worked 15 minutes and 43 seconds – all of that while his father, Ulf, watched from a luxury suite as a guest of Mario Lemieux.
The Samuelssons will always have Monday night – a father, legendary in Pittsburgh, one of the Penguins’ most popular players, watching the son play NHL hockey for the first time.
Thing is, papa had no advice for his boy.
“No,” Philip Samuelsson said Monday night of his parents. “They were traveling earlier (Monday), so I didn’t get a chance to talk to them.
“He probably would have said, ‘Just try and settle into it as quick as you can.’”
That is pretty sweet, actually.
Wednesday night could be even sweeter.
Ulf Samuelsson is an assistant coach with the New York Rangers, whom the Penguins will play at Madison Square Garden.
“It will definitely be interesting, the first time I’ve played against him,” Philip Samuelsson said. “That’ll be weird.”
No weirder, perhaps, than the Penguins winning again with seven AHL call-ups in the lineup.
That is what they did Monday night with a 3-1 defeat of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Somehow, some way, the Penguins are on a 9-1-0 run since their defense was hit with the loss of a second top-four defenseman in Paul Martin.
They are now down all of their top-four.
Olli Maatta, 19, played 24:17 against Toronto, including 6:12 shorthanded.
Let those three numbers settle.
>> Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle told Toronto reporters that the explanation he received for Penguins defenseman Robert Bortuzzo only receiving a minor penalty for checking to the head – regarding his hit of Toronto winger Jerry D’Amigo – was, essentially, that Bortuzzo is tall and D’Amigo is not.
Of course, that is true.
Bortuzzo is 6-foot-4. D’Amigo is 5-foot-11.
NHL Player Safety is OK with the hit, posting this on its Twitter feed:
“In looking at Bortuzzo/D’Amigo, we see unavoidable head contact on an otherwise full body hit. Will not be pursuing supplemental discipline.”
Bortuzzo was not available for comment after the game.
>> Marc-Andre Fleury would definitely be Canada’s goalie were Pittsburgh to play host to the 2014 Olympics. His stats at home this season: 13-2-0, 1.63 GAA and .943 SV%.
He has allowed 25 goals in 16 games.
Perhaps the most surprising thing about Fleury’s performances is that they seemingly go unappreciated by, well, folks like me.
Nobody from the media spoke with Fleury after a game in which he 25 saves for his NHL-best 19th victory.
Well, somebody did – Jarkko Ruuttu’s official biographer.
Seriously, though, the most amazing thing about Fleury’s response to a soul-searching summer is that we’re all taking for granted how consistently he is performing.
>> Sidney Crosby has played in every game. We’re all taking that for granted, too.
He said he whiffed on his winning shot against Toronto.
>> Only slightly, I’d give Fleury the edge over Crosby as team MVP. Third on my ballot would be Matt Niskanen. That said; this season belongs to coach Dan Bylsma and his masterful performance to date.
>> Evgeni Malkin wants to play on Wednesday night. The Penguins are going to squash that, but it is a good sign that he is thinking that way. Several members of the organization expressed relief that Malkin is not seriously injured after his crashing into those bouncy Detroit boards on Saturday night.
>> Josh Yohe’s GAMER off this latest victory: http://triblive.com/sports/penguins/5263834-74/penguins-game-hit#axzz2nh84eoc1
>> Brooks Orpik is improving, and other injury developments in the NOTES: http://triblive.com/sports/penguins/5263853-74/penguins-monday-orpik#axzz2nh84eoc1
>> Deryk Engelland’s discipline hearing surprises Dan Bylsma: http://triblive.com/sports/penguins/5264654-74/engelland-thornton-bylsma#axzz2nh84eoc1
Be EXCELLENT to each other,