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Dejan Kovacevic's Blog

Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Morning skate: Penguins-Jets 12-23

WINNIPEG, Manitoba – Stuff from today’s morning skate at the fabulous MTS Centre …

>> The Jets are having an optional skate right now, just a handful of guys. They beat Montreal here last night, 4-0, so coach Claude Noel cut them a break.

>> The Penguins’ skate will not be optional. That will start around 11:30.

>> Deryk Engelland is actually on the trip. He had to come because the NHL took so long to decide on his three-game suspension. I’ll see if he has anything to say.

UPDATE 12:18 p.m.: I’m hearing that Engelland will, in fact, talk. Should be interesting.

Just spent some time in the Jets’ room. I’d say about 7-8 guys participated in the skate, but that included a couple of their key guys in Tim Stapleton and Tanner Glass.

Glass told me that the key to facing the Penguins, particularly Evgeni Malkin, is to make sure you keep backing off, at least enough so that you’re not beaten with a single move.

“They’re all dangerous like that, but especially him,” Glass said. “You have to respect their speed, but you also have to respect how structured they are.”

Of the Jets’ home-ice advantage — they’re 7-1-1 in the past nine here — he said, “It’s the loudest building I’ve ever heard in my life.” Few who have been here would disagree. Place is remarkable.

Oh, and here’s a quick shot I took of the room where the Jets have their skates sharpened …

12:31: Noel said Ondrej Pavelec will be in net tonight for the Jets. Of the Penguins, Noel said, “They’re a great team. They somehow find a way to get it done even with a lot of guys banged up.”

I’ll have more after the Penguins are done. In the interim, follow me on Twitter for live updates.

2:05: A few more things …

>> Marc-Andre Fleury will start.

>> Evgeni Malkin, Chris Kunitz and Steve Sullivan all had the skate off for “maintenance,” according to Dan Bylsma. They should play.

>> Bylsma will wear a terrible green Christmas sweater tonight, having promised that to the players if they beat Chicago the other night. They did, and he’s paying the price.

2:07: Neither Bylsma nor Engelland took issue with his suspension. Here’s Engelland from  just now …


I’m going out to see the town now via the Winnipeg Walkway. Should be fun.

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