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October 4, 2014
by Jason Mackey


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Mackey: What does it all mean?

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The Penguins made a few roster moves today, and that’s probably a good thing.

If nothing else than from a logistical standpoint.

The team put goaltender Jeff Zatkoff, forwards Zach Sill and Andrew Ebbett and defenseman Taylor Chorney on waivers. Defenseman Brian Dumoulin and forward Bobby Farnham were reassigned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

What does this mean?

Well, in terms of actually hockey it means that:

>>Thomas Greiss will back up Marc-Andre Fleury this season.

Not exactly a shock here given that general manager Jim Rutherford — a former goalie himself — signed Greiss while his existing backup (Zatkoff) had another year left on his contract.

But again, what does this mean?

For now, it likely means that Greiss can move to the other side of the locker room, into the larger stall that Zatkoff once occupied. (Teams have until Sunday at noon to claim him; I believe someone will.)

Or maybe he’ll stay put. Greiss insisted that he liked his seat and wasn’t necessarily in a rush to move.

“I like sitting next to Marc,” Greiss said. “It’s pretty nice talking to him and chatting about goalie things. I don’t mind.”

No word on what “goalie things” are. Or if Greiss, a man of few words, has ever made small talk about anything with anyone.

If Greiss doesn’t move, bet on Kasperi Kapanen or Oskar Sundqvist — or maybe both — to take one of the vacant lockers. Poor kids were sitting on two folding chairs Saturday in the front of the Penguins locker room.

>>So what do the other moves mean?
Well, they mean the Penguins are confident enough in Scott Harrington as a sixth defenseman.

Depending on how Olli Maatta’s shoulder responds to some ramped up contact — so good so far — Harrington could possibly be in the lineup for opening night next Thursday at home against Anaheim.

“Scott Harrington has had a very good camp,” head coach Mike Johnston said. “He’s stepped up in the games in London through the preseason. I thought he’s played very well in every game.

“The type of defenseman that he is, he’s a puck-moving defenseman who can jump up into the play, but he is very solid defensively. He’s got great defensive positioning. We really trust him in his own zone.

“We’ll sort out who’s going to be in the lineup on Thursday over the next couple days, but obviously by him staying here right now, he’s right there in the mix.”

>>You may have heard that Evgeni Malkin skated Saturday. Say someone claims Sill and Malkin’s healthy enough to go Thursday, you’re probably going to scratch one among the following group: Kapanen, Sundqvist, Craig Adams or Nick Spaling.

Adams and Spaling are solid PK guys, and Johnston said today he wants three forward pairings, each with one guy who can take draws. That fits Spaling.

I think they’re intrigued by what Kapanen can bring on the second line, at least enough to give him a nine-game look. Which would mean Sundqvist and Adams are battling for the final, fourth line spot. If Malkin can’t go, they both make it.

We shall see, right? Practice tomorrow at 11.

Be GRATEFUL to each other,

Mackey

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October 3, 2014
by Jason Mackey


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Marshall: Examining Patric Hornqvist

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The Penguins did not bring in Nikolai Kulemin as many thought to play with Evgeni Malkin. They traded for Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling from Nashville, giving up James Neal.

Will it work? No way of knowing yet.

But in the first of what I hope will be many appearances, local analytics expert Jesse Marshall takes a closer look at Hornqvist according to advanced metrics.

Anyway, here’s Marshall on Hornqvist:

Patric Hornqvist is arriving to the Penguins with a fairly high standard of expectation.

Although we haven’t seen Evgeni Malkin in the preseason, the indications point to Hornqvist being the pseudo-replacement for James Neal on the Penguins second line.

If you’ve been following along with the Penguins in the preseason, you’ve probably already noticed Hornqvist living up to his billing as a net-front presence in each of his appearances in his exhibition appearances.

While Hornqvist is an extremely different beast than the 40-goal scoring winger he’s replacing, there’s a good bit of information within advanced metrics that give us a good idea of what to expect from the newcomer.

Nashville wasn’t exactly what I’d call a possession monster. In fact, 48% of all shooting attempts on target (blocked shots, saves, missed shots, etc.) belonged to the Predators last year. That number was good for 23rd in the NHL last season.

That being said, the Predators performed at a higher possession clip with Hornqvist on the ice. He clicked at 51% in the Corsi category for the Predators in 2013-14, a number that is two percent higher than the Penguins clicked at as a whole.

If it’s possession that head coach Mike Johnston covets, he may have found a gem in Hornqvist. He was on the ice for a total of 1,017 shooting attempts for the predators last season and managed to eat up 125 hits last season, a number that is 70 more than ex-Malkin linemate Neal.

It’s also worth mentioning here that advanced metrics tell us that Hornqvist played against the toughest competition of anyone on Nashville’s roster last season and did so with teammates that we can best describe with the term “underwhelming.”

That volume of shot attempts can probably be accounted for by understanding where Hornqvist can be found in the offensive zone. Hornqvist had 19 tip-in attempts and 10 wrap-around attempts last season. Those 29 combined attempts are 11 more than Neal had from that net-front area.

Let’s take a look at Hornqvist’s shot and goal heat map provided by Sporting Charts.

HORN-1

There’s a lot of red around that crease.

While I don’t think we can definitely say that the Penguins had a problem with net-front presence last year, adding an able body like Hornqvist is never a bad thing. In fact, since the retirement of Tomas Holmstrom in Detroit, you might be hard-pressed to find a better net front presence in the NHL today.

With Malkin being the type of center that has a booming shot and a general tendency to increase the productivity of his linemates, the 22 goals that Hornqvist scored for Nashville last season might be due to take a giant bump for the Penguins this year.

Marshall started his own website called Faceoff-Factor. He currently writes for The Pensblog.

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October 3, 2014
by Jason Mackey


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Surprised a bit by Joe Louis Arena

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I was warned.

Joe Louis Arena is a dump, I was told. Worst in the league. You’ll hate it. Just wait for the new place to open. Things will be so much better.

Have to admit, I kind of liked the Joe. Don’t know what it is.

Maybe it’s the surprisingly beautiful walk along the river from my hotel to the rink.

Or the killer music — Green Day, Weezer and more — played during games.

Or the sense that something special happened here.

The Penguins winning the Stanley Cup in 2009, sure, but there’s so much more. The rafters are packed full with banners. In the home dressing room, pictures of Red Wings legends hang above players’ lockers.

The seats and concourse level reminded me, honestly, of Mellon Arena. Your shoes stick to the cement when you walk to your seat. There are urinal troughs in the men’s restrooms.

Some rows of seats are visibly — and strangely — cockeyed. There’s a ring of seats around the very top of the building, much like the F-level balcony at Mellon Arena.

I got a bit of an unwanted tour Wednesday afternoon, as I tried to find an area lit well enough to film a Cinesport video, which prove damned near impossible.

I guess because I didn’t realize at the time that the directions to the press level went something like this: walk out of the press lounge, turn right when you reach the trash compactor and go through the door with the no re-entry sign on it. Proceed to walk alone up about 10 flights of steps.

Finally I did make it to the press box, which is located atop the first level of seats, directly behind the final row of fans.

The Joe’s press row isn’t carpeted. There’s no buffet table with pretzel nuggets, three different kinds of chips, goldfish, raw vegetables, popcorn, soda, water and coffee.

No, not JLA’s style.

On Wednesday night there was a ripped-open bag of popcorn, and the drinks were in the same type of cooler that you’d see at a Giant Eagle checkout line.

Basically my point in all of this rambling is that, in a world where the Next Big Thing seems to be the norm, it’s refreshing to have something different.

To have memories and history beat dollars and cents, even if it was only for a day.

It was Jim Rutherford who told me no building finds its true identity until there’s a champion crowned in it.

I think he’s right.

Be GRATEFUL to each other,

Mackey

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October 2, 2014
by Jason Mackey


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Roster analysis after Carcillo released from PTO

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The Penguins released Daniel Carcillo from his professional tryout contract Thursday morning.

While the decision wasn’t easy — like him or hate him, Carcillo has a ton of grit and toughness, and he fought through obvious foot pain to even take the ice — it advances the picture of the roster moving forward.

Depending on the health and availability of Evgeni Malkin, the toughest decision, in my opinion, centers around what to do with Kasperi Kapanen, Oskar Sundqvist and Zach Sill.

Is Kapanen ready? Was Sundqvist’s camp legit and emblematic of what he’ll do during the regular season?

Sill provides a ton of toughness and grit, stuff you would have gotten with Carcillo. He and Downie also get along, for whatever that’s worth.

If Malkin’s healthy, you likely have an open spot on his left wing that Kapanen or Sundqvist could fill. Were it me, I’d take Kapanen. I know management and coaches also have no problem with Steve Downie playing there.

Example:

14-87-9
42/49-71-72
17-16-23
13-57-27-38

For your bottom six — assuming Sundqvist or Kapanen sticks on the second line and Malkin’s healthy — you can take five from this group: Brandon Sutter, Downie, Blake Comeau, Nick Spaling, Craig Adams, Marcel Goc and Sill.

Figure Sutter, Downie and Goc are locks. Comeau and Spaling are darn close; why would you acquire someone in the offseason to not use them? Adams and Sill are on the bubble.

Say Downie plays with Malkin and Hornqvist. Then you’re picking a bottom six from this group: Sutter, Comeau, Spaling, Adams, Goc, Sill, Sundqvist and Kapanen.

Example:

14-87-9
23-71-72
17-16-23
49-42-38-57-27

If Malkin isn’t healthy enough to start the season, the decision is made easier. Play Sutter on the second line, potentially with Kapanen or Sundqvist or even Downie, and you probably only have to make a decision on whether you want Kapanen or Sundqvist.

Example:

14-87-9
42/49-16-72
17-13-23
42/49-38-57-27

For what it’s worth, Sundqvist has appeared more comfortable playing among the bottom six than Kapanen, whose game seems much more suited for a top-six role.

The point of all this?

The Penguins probably want to know what they’re facing with Malkin.

And soon.

Be GRATEFUL to each other,

Mackey

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October 2, 2014
by Jason Mackey


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Pens end preseason with win

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DETROIT — One was expected. The other two maybe not so much.

No matter what you might have predicted, Marc-Andre Fleury, Blake Comeau and Oskar Sundqvist combined to carry the Penguins to a 2-0 victory over the Red Wings in their preseason finale Wednesday at Joe Louis Arena.

Comeau scored in the second period, his team-high fourth point of the preseason.

Sundqvist, in a quest to make the opening night roster, notched his second goal of a surprise camp.

Fleury stopped all 25 shots he faced and finished 2-1 in three preseason starts, stopping 62 of 65 shots over eight periods.

The win helped the Penguins (3-3) avoid their first sub-.500 preseason since 2009-10.

“I think it’s good for my confidence, to go into the regular season,” Fleury said. “You don’t always look at the numbers, but I’m trying to work on the little things.”

Whether Sundqvist makes the opening night roster is yet to be determined, but this much is certain: He’s made the decision tough with three points and two goals in five preseason games, including points in three straight.

“He’s led to a lot of conversation between our coaching staff and management,” Penguins coach Mike Johnston said “He’s had a very good preseason. Every game, no matter where I seem to play him, if he’s with very experienced players or he’s in more of a checking situation, he seems to have responded.”

Sundqvist, who’s a 6-foot-3, 209-pound center from Sweden, was plenty happy with his preseason … and understandably so.

“I think it went pretty good,” Sundqvist said. “Came here not expecting that much out of myself. It’s been better and better every day.”

Comeau, whom the Penguins signed to a one-year contract for $700,000 on July 1, led all Penguins players this preseason with four points.

His versatility is something that has intrigued Johnston and members of Penguins management.
Comeau scored 24 goals with the Islanders in 2010-11 and established a career-high with 197 hits while playing for the Blue Jackets in 2013-14.

The only downer, of course, was the fact that Comeau took three penalties against the Red Wings.

“If you look at the way he’s handled the puck, you look at his poise with the puck in the offensive zone, he’s a quick player down the wing,” Johnston said. “Another right-handed shot who can carry the puck on the outside with some speed. He’s got scoring chances every game he’s been in.”

Another important part of Wednesday’s win was captain Sidney Crosby playing his first and only preseason game with no setbacks.

He finished with seven shots in 18:47, despite a few minor adjustments to Johnston’s new system.

“I think there was a couple times where I had to think where I needed to be,” Crosby said. “Usually when you’re doing that, you’re not in the right spot. It’s just a matter of trusting where you need to go.”

Club’s doing their own thing Thursday and Friday. Practice Saturday and Sunday.

Be GRATEFUL to each other,

Mackey

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October 1, 2014
by Jason Mackey


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Pregame: Penguins at Red Wings, 7:30 p.m.

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DETROIT — Penguins captain Sidney Crosby is back and centering a line with Chris Kunitz to his left and Patric Hornqvist to his right.

Previously, Crosby has said he prefers two or three preseason games to get ready. That’s not feasible this season, both because of an undisclosed injury early in camp and recently the death of his grandmother.

Will it be enough to get ready for the opener a week from tomorrow?

“Yeah, I think ideally you would get at least a couple (games),” Crosby said after the Penguins’ morning skate at Joe Louis Arena. “But that’s not the scenario. I’m not going to complain about it. I’m going to try to make the most of this game and get ready for the season.”

The top line is an interesting combination. Kunitz and Hornqvist are both go-to-the-net guys, and Crosby’s regular right wing, Pascal Dupuis, is playing left wing on the second line with center Brandon Sutter and right wing Steve Downie.

I get that they’re trying to take a look at what 14-87-72 looks like. I’m not banking on that becoming a permanent combination. Why, you ask?

Penguins coach Mike Johnston has previously gone on record as saying he prefers lines to have a mix of skills, talents and tendencies. Kunitz and Hornqvist are too similar, in my opinion, to align with that preference. But we’ll see, right?

“We’re going to take a look — as we have through the preseason here — at some different combinations of plays and see how they work together,” Johnston said. “We’re going to take a look at that one tonight.”

Johnston pointed to Hornqvist begin a right-handed shot as one reason he’s intrigued to see what the combination can do.

Hornqvist talked this morning about playing with Red Wings center Henrik Zetterberg — international competition; they’re both Swedish — and how different it is playing with a dynamic center.

“They can make things happen from nothing,” Hornqvist said. “That’s why they’re so good. It always seems like they have that extra half-second out there. They have it every game. It’s not just luck. They’re born with it.”

News out of the skate: Not much. Daniel Carcillo (foot) will play. Penguins still have to remove someone because Carcillo was a late addition. That has not happened yet. Jeff Zatkoff was the last goalie off the ice, which means it’s probably going to be Thomas Greiss who serves as the backup to starter Marc-Andre Fleury. Read as much into that one as you’d like.

TV/Radio: Root/NHL Network/105.9 FM

About Detroit: The Red Wings are coming off a 3-0 win over Toronto on Monday. … G Petr Mrazek, who will likely play in the American Hockey League this season, made 27 saves. … D Nick Jensen, C Riley Sheahan and RW Tomas Jurco had the goals, with Jurco’s an empty-netter late. … Each team had eight power plays. Detroit converted twice. … Sheahan added an assist. … Big names in the Red Wings’ lineup Wednesday include: LW Justin Abdelkader, RW Gustav Nyquist, Sheahan, Tatar, C Henrik Zetterberg, D Niklas Kronwall and LW Johan Franzen.

The series: Detroit won the preseason opener for both teams, 2-1, at Consol Energy Center on Sept. 22. … Beau Bennett had the Penguins’ lone goal. … Pavel Datsyuk tallied a goal and an assist for the Red Wings, but a hit by Penguins defenseman Rob Scuderi knocked him from the game. Turns out it’s a separated shoulder that will keep Datsyuk out until late October.

Next up: Regular season/home opener, Thursday, Oct. 9 vs. Ducks, 7 p.m.

Links
The Trib’s Penguins page
The Penguins’ lineup
The Red Wings’ home page
NHL.com’s preview page

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October 1, 2014
by Jason Mackey


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Lineup for Pens at Red Wings

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Here’s who will play for the Penguins tonight at Detroit. Sidney Crosby’s in, Kasperi Kapanen’s out. As expected, still no Evgeni Malkin.

Head coach Mike Johnston said yesterday that D Olli Maatta won’t play, meaning he will have missed all six preseason games.

D Brian Dumoulin is out. Will be interesting to see whether Harrington has edged past him for the 6/7 defense spot or what.

4 Rob Scuderi D
6 Scott Harrington D
7 Paul Martin D
9 Pascal Dupuis F
10 Christian Ehrhoff D
13 Nick Spaling F
14 Chris Kunitz F
16 Brandon Sutter F
17 Blake Comeau F
23 Steve Downie F
27 Craig Adams F
38 Zach Sill F
47 Simon Despres D
49 Oskar Sundqvist F
57 Marcel Goc F
58 Kris Letang D
72 Patric Hornqvist F
87 Sidney Crosby F

1 Thomas Greiss G
29 Marc-Andre Fleury G
37 Jeff Zatkoff G

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October 1, 2014
by Jason Mackey


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The Penguins vs. Darryl Sutter

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The Penguins changed plans Tuesday afternoon. Instead of going away for a two-day retreat Thursday and Friday of this week, they’re staying in Pittsburgh for team-bonding activities.

Head coach Mike Johnston explained today the team is bringing in a company called MGI, also known as the Matishak Group.

MGI is an Edmonton-based organization that touts relationship building and cultivating leaders within a particular group. This is done through activities and games.

Essentially the Penguins are trying to fast-track chemistry and leadership by contracting with an outside service.

Silly? You be the judge. It certainly won’t seem silly if they start 10-0. It’ll seem ridiculous if they go winless in their first 10.

Given his recent comments to the Los Angeles Times, however, I’m guessing Kings coach Darryl Sutter wouldn’t want to participate in whatever the Penguins will be doing.

“I’m not into that, what you hear about go climbing ropes and going to a fort somewhere,” Sutter told Jon Rosen. “You do most of your bonding in May and June, quite honest.”

Ouch.

Then this …

“If you need to go somewhere to learn about your personality, then you probably have a disorder.”

Here’s a link to the Sutter story.

A little strong, sure. I’m pretty sure the Penguins don’t all have disorders. But give the man credit for voicing his opinion.

In any case, Johnston seems pretty fired up about this thing.

Here’s what he had to say when I asked Tuesday afternoon about what would transpire Thursday and Friday.

“We have a group coming in from Edmonton that I’ve worked with before,” Johnston said. “They do a lot on group dynamics. It’s a combination of personality traits of your group. We’re going to have our coaches, trainers and everybody with us. Everybody who travels with us. We’re going to do some games.

“What it does in the end is it tells some core strengths of your group. They’ll will talk to us as a coaching staff about how to deal with that type of group. With these core strengths, here’s how they’re best coached. It’s good information for us.

“Final thing is just a chance for the guys to get together. Training camp, you come in, doesn’t matter if you’re a veteran or a rookie. There’s a lot of people around. Now it’s just the team. We’ll be down to smaller numbers. It’ll be a chance for us to enjoy some time together as a small group.”

Wednesday’s #TribHKY links:
Despres relishing role on Penguins blue line
Notebook: Malkin picture muddy

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September 30, 2014
by Jason Mackey


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Extras from Monday night in Minnesota

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Pascal Dupuis played in a hockey game, and his knee responded just fine. Steve Downie flashed some offensive skill. The battle to back up Marc-Andre Fleury in goal may be nearing a close, with Thomas Greiss a step ahead of Jeff Zatkoff.

Monday’s preseason game at Minnesota didn’t offer much in the way of a final score — Jason Pominville’s natural hat trick produced a 4-1 Wild win — there were a few more subtle storylines.

Dupuis had not played since Dec. 23, 2013, when he tore his ACL and MCL in a game at the Ottawa Senators. In 16 minutes, 28 seconds of ice time at XCel Energy Center, Dupuis was a minus-1, committed two penalties, tallied four shots, dished out two hits and blocked a shot.

Perfect? No. Better than Dupuis wearing a red, non-contact jersey? Absolutely.

Dupuis played on the right wing of a line that include Chris Kunitz at left wing and Nick Spaling at center.

“It’s all about getting into the flow and knowing what it feels like, what it’s supposed to feel like,” Dupuis said. “I’ve played enough games to know what it should feel and look like when I play. I’m not there yet, but it’s a big step.”

The Penguins practice Tuesday in Detroit and play the Red Wings at 7:30 Wednesday night at Joe Louis Arena.

Greiss, an offseason free agent acquisition, may have locked down the backup goaltender job ahead of Zatkoff, the incumbent. He stopped eight of nine shots Monday and looked more sound positionally, more comfortable in the crease.

Zatkoff wasn’t helped by a Pominville shot through traffic and a rebound that made him scramble a bit to try and stop the rebound stuff — which, obviously, didn’t happen.

“I went in and worked hard,” Zatkoff said. “I tried to work hard in practice every day and played well in the games. We’ll see what happens.”

Minnesota had only 17 shots in the game, meaning there was a lot of downtime for the goalies. Actually, the Penguins are allowing an average of 18 shots on goal over their past preseason games.

“I thought both guys were good,” Johnston said of Zatkoff and Greiss. “I thought Greiss looked really calm in the net to start the game. When you don’t have a lot of shots, you have to make sure you’re ready for when they take place.”

Some troubling trends continued. The Penguins allowed three goals in the third, bringing that total to six over five preseason games. They’ve coughed up five power play goals in five games. And the Penguins didn’t score on the power play, dropping that number to 12.5 percent through 16 chances.

One plus side was Downie, who had a beautiful finish on Letang’s shot in the second. He’s tough, but he also has hands. Just the other day I was watching Downie — a former first-round draft pick — stickhandle at practice, and it’s not what you would expect from a third-line tough guy.

“Downie has really good skill,” Johnston said. “Watch how he works the corners. He has a good stick down there. He has his head up all the time. He can make plays. A guy like him not only provides energy, but he is a threat.”

Be GRATEFUL to each other,

Mackey

Tuesday’s #TribHKY Links
Healthy again, Dupuis savors game action
Wild beat Pens behind Pominville’s hat trick

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September 29, 2014
by Jason Mackey


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Pregame: Penguins at Minnesota, 8 p.m.

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So here we are, the fifth preseason game, a mere eight hours away from the expected debuts of Pascal Dupuis and Daniel Carcillo. Captain Sidney Crosby was a late scratch because of his grandmother’s funeral.

Tonight’s game at Minnesota also represents one of the last chances for the backup goalie job to be determined, as Thomas Greiss and Jeff Zatkoff will play about 30 minutes apiece, head coach Mike Johnston said. Greiss will start … and it was determined by a coin flip, or at least that’s what Johnston said.

News out of the skate:: A lot. … D Olli Maatta (shoulder) has not been cleared but will practice in Detroit on Tuesday. He will be evaluated there to see whether he can play Wednesday. … Johnston said D Robert Bortuzzo will be out three to five weeks. Bortuzzo left Thursday’s game against Minnesota early with an apparent knee injury, though Johnston didn’t specify the nature of Bortuzzo’s injury. … Johnston said he plans on using Crosby, F Chris Kunitz and C Evgeni Malkin to kill penalties. … Malkin has not yet skated. … D Derrick Pouliot is skating in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

To get ready, here are five questions I have for tonight:

1. Where does Kasperi Kapanen play? His goal Saturday was a thing of beauty. His play at Columbus earlier last week was not. From what I’ve seen, Kapanen looks much more comfortable playing with skilled players, not grinders. With Crosby out, how does head coach Mike Johnston mix and match his top two lines, which will likely include wingers Kapanen, Dupuis, Kunitz and Hornqvist? Nick Spaling was a late replacement for Crosby, but could he be your top line center? Will be interesting, for sure. Have to play Kapanen in the top six.

2. Who wins the backup goalie job? Don’t be naive enough to think it’s all riding on tonight; Zatkoff and Greiss been evaluated continually throughout camp. But if someone gives up four goals and looks badly out of position, I doubt that will qualify as a ringing endorsement.

3. What will the defensive pairings look like? Bortuzzo hasn’t skated since incurring what looked to be a knee injury with about eight minutes left in last Thursday’s Minnesota game. Remember, Maatta not yet been cleared. Which leaves us with something like Kris Letang-Christian Ehrhoff, Paul Martin, Simon Despres … then, what? Brian Dumoulin and Scott Harrington have a chance to make an impression tonight, probably even more so given Philip Samuellson was reassigned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this morning.

4. What will Carcillo do? There aren’t many questions about what he can do, but given the fact that he’s on the cusp of a roster spot, you think he tries to offer a bit of a reminder? Me think so.

5. How’s Dupuis’ knee? He’s looked great so far, no setbacks, only the first six days of non-contact limitations. The speed’s been there. Dupuis he hasn’t played an NHL game since last December. It’s debatable whether some preseason games qualify as actual NHL comeptition, but having him in the lineup — even if it’s not necessarily on Crosby’s wing — wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.

News out of the skate:

TV/Radio: Root/105.9 FM

About Minnesota: Offseason acquisition F Thomas Vanek is expected to make his home debut for the Wild. … G Darcy Kuemper is expected to play the entire game. … A fairly decent lineup will play: forwards Zach Parise, Jason Pominville, Mikko Koivu, Vanek and Matt Cooke, as well as defenseman Ryan Suter. … This is the third preseason game for Minnesota. … The Wild are 2-1 and coming off a 4-3 home victory over Winnipeg on Saturday that included three power play goals.

The series: Pittsburgh secured an overtime win, 3-2, at Consol Energy Center on Thursday, Sept. 25. … C Brandon Sutter tapped in the rebound from a Simon Despres shot at 2 minutes, 23 seconds of overtime to finish off a two-goal, four-shot performance. … Zatkoff stopped 16 of 18 shots while playing a full 60. … Despres added a pair of primary assists.


Next up: Wednesday at Detroit, 7:30 p.m.

Links
The Trib’s Penguins page
The Penguins’ home page
The Wild’s home page
NHL.com’s preview

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