VERIZON GAME DAY REPORT
The Hurricanes did not skate this morning, but head coach Kirk Muller did address the media.
THEY SAID IT...
Hawaiian shirt boy Cooke with his nemesis, Fleury (Flower hasn't been letting him off the hook in any shootouts this year)
Malkin with assistant coach Tony Granato, aka the nicest human being ever
Kunitz showing off some stick skills
Everyone at morning skate except for Crosby, Neal and Martin
Linemates Kunitz and Iginla on the attack
Cool-angle shot of Orpik
Tony G. makes another appearance in today's batch of photos, this time with Iggy
Murray and Orpik at center ice
--Michelle Crechiolo and Sam Kasan
Head coach Dan Bylsma had a few lineup updates:
- Marc-Andre Fleury will be the Pens' starting goaltender.
- Kris Letang skated with the team again, but will not play tonight.
- Bortuzzo will play in place of Despres.
MORNING SKATE INFO
Pens used the following rushes at their morning skate in Carolina...
Penguins winger James Neal has been diagnosed with a concussion.
“James Neal has a concussion and will miss the (three-game road) trip,” head coach Dan Bylsma said.
Defenseman Kris Letang, who has missed the past five games with a lower-body injury, returned to team practice Monday at Southpointe.
“I’m feeling good,” Letang said. “It’s exciting to be back and practicing with the boys.”
Full story/video here.
Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said he is feeling better a week after having surgery to repair a broken jaw, but has no timetable on when he will be able to return to the lineup.
“Having gone a week or so it’s gotten better and I feel better than after the first couple of days,” said Crosby, who has missed the team’s last three games. “I’m going to see the doctor all this week. Whenever he feels comfortable and feels like I can go out and skate, that’s something I’ll wait to hear from him.”
Full story/video here.
Why have they been struggling so badly? Injuries have played a major role. They’ve been dealing with them all season, but right now the most significant one is to their No. 1 goaltender. Former Stanley Cup-winning and NHL All-Star Cam Ward suffered a sprained knee ligament on March 3 and was given a projected recovery time of 6-8 weeks. He’s missed 17 straight games. With Ward sidelined, Dan Ellis assumed starter duties and the Hurricanes recalled Justin Peters from the American Hockey League to back him up. Neither goalie has provided any consistency between the pipes.
Overall, their defense has been lacking – allowing 52 goals over that 13-game stretch. And despite peppering opposing goalies with shots – Carolina is averaging over 42 pucks to the net their last four contests – they haven’t been capitalizing on chances. Conversely, they’ve scored 20 goals during this 13-game stretch. In addition, their special teams have been disastrous – with both their power play (28th; converting 13.0 percent of chances) and penalty kill (28th; killing off 76.6 of shorthanded situations) ranking at the bottom of the league.
Full preview here.
START ME UP
Good morning Pens fans! The team is in Carolina for a 7 p.m. tilt with the Hurricanes. The 'Canes are coming off a 6-2 loss in Boston Monday night that has really put their playoff hopes on life support. They sit 13th in the conference and are out of the 8th seed by eight points. Carolina needs to practically run the table and get a lot of help.
The Pens already clinched a playoff berth, but with a win against Carolina tonight they would lock up the Atlantic Division title - their first since 2007-08 and first under head coach Dan Bylsma. Pittsburgh will hit the ice for a 10:30 a.m. morning skate. The 'Canes, having played last night, are not skating this morning.
The division title is nigh. To get you pumped up and get your head bobbing, we'll start the day with a little dub step. Here is Skrillex "Scary Monsters and Nice Spirits." Oh my gosh!!