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Penguins Report: Game Day at Florida

by Staff Writer / Pittsburgh Penguins

With Thomas Greiss getting sick, the Pens were going to have just one netminder (Marc-Andre Fleury) at morning skate. Until goaltending coach Mike Bales came to the rescue.

The Panthers were kind enough to set the former professional player up with full equipment and he took the ice only a few minutes late. I went down to the other end to watch him and he did just fine. The funniest part was how much the guys good-naturedly chirped him every time a puck got past him. They were loving having one of the staff in net.

"I didn’t shoot on him, but I watched him a couple times and he looked like he was pretty good down there," captain Sidney Crosby laughed. "He didn’t look like he deserved many chirps, I didn’t see too many pucks going in."

When I asked Mike Johnston how he did, the head coach just laughed and said, "He was better than Jim Britt" - taking a dig at the manager of team operations, who jumps in goal if needed when the team is at home.

--Michelle Crechiolo


Sidney Crosby

Bobby Farnham

Rob Klinkhammer

--Sam Kasan


--Michelle Crechiolo

Pens head coach Mike Johnston had a few lineup notes...
  • Goalie Jeff Zatkoff will be the only player recalled from WBS. Johnston said the team will re-evaluate after tonight's game whether they will try to get another forward up for tomorrow's game in Tampa.
"We’re going to talk about that this afternoon, trying to get somebody in, because all the Wilkes guys have gone home. So getting their equipment, connecting with the player, or can we play seven defense, that’s a question we’ll discuss as a group this afternoon and make a decision."
  • The Pens will dress 11 forwards and 7 defensemen. Johnston will play a defenseman up top instead of double-shifting Crosby and Malkin on the fourth line.
"We’ll probably play a defenseman up front a little bit and get five, six, seven minutes of a defenseman playing on that line and then sort of maneuver from there," Johnston said. "We’ve got to place some depth in our lineup tonight so that’s what I’m going to do originally heading into the game, for sure."
  • The defenseman that plays up will not be Letang or Scuderi.
"Scuderi and Letang are really key with that group and Despres is almost a veteran guy right now," Johnston said. "It’s funny to talk about him as a veteran guy because coming in the season, he didn’t have a lot of games. Now he’s looked on as more of a veteran influence back there. But certainly Scuderi and Letang will be relied on a lot these next two games."

--Sam Kasan


Comeau: These bros ain't loyal

Fleury: Watch me make saves with my glove. Rust: This is weird, but OK

Malkin is half Russian and half asleep

Crosby with an evenly-sized jawline

Goalie coach Mike Bales bailed the Pens out at practice by replacing Greiss. See what I did there?

Hornqvist laughs at his own jokes. "I sold my vacuum cleaner yesterday. All it did was collect dust!"

Tocchet: So is it Simon? Or Seymon? Or Seymone?

Hornqvist is having the best time at the morning skate. He's doing the skate right.

Kunitz is juiced up and ready for the game tonight.

--Sam Kasan & Michelle Crechiolo

Penguins forwards Brandon Sutter and Steve Downie and goalie Thomas Greiss are being tested for mumps, the team announced.

The three players accompanied the team on its road trip to Florida yesterday. They will be placed in isolation until test results are known.

(Photo from Saturday)

--Sam Kasan

The Penguins are on the ice for the morning skate. All the team's injured players are absent, as are Brandon Sutter, Steve Downie and Thomas Greiss. Goalie coach Mike Bales filled in for Greiss opposite Marc-Andre Fleury. The team didn't do line rushes. Instead they worked with the two power-play units and the rest of the group rotated through.

PP1: Crosby, Malkin, Kunitz, Hornqvist, Letang
PP2: Goc, Comeau, Rust, Despres, Pouliot

--Sam Kasan

Here's a few notes in infograph form going into tonight's matchup...

--Michelle Crechiolo

Good morning from Florida! The Penguins are in the Sunshine State for the second game of a home-and-home series with the Panthers. Puck drops at 7:30 p.m. at BB&T Center. And let me tell you, the weather here is amazing - 81 degrees and sunny. This paired with Tampa Bay tomorrow is the perfect getaway before the NHL breaks for the holidays.

Here's a few game notes to get you ready for tonight's matchup...
  • The Penguins are 5-0-2 in their last seven games.

  • Pittsburgh has gotten at least one point in 15 of its last 18 games (12-3-3).
  • This season the Penguins have a NHL-best .750 road points percentage (9-2-3).

  • Pittsburgh has won 21 of the last 29 meetings against Florida.

  • Tonight the Penguins begin their sixth set of back-to-back games. Thus far they have a cumulative record of 4-3-3; including 2-2-1 the first night and 2-1-2 in the second game.
The two teams met on Saturday in Pittsburgh, with the Penguins skating to a 3-1 win in what turned out to be a very chippy game. Let's start today's Penguins Report with the highlights from that game. My favorite moment? Rookie defenseman Derrick Pouliot, the eighth-overall pick in the 2012 draft, scoring his first NHL goal, on his first NHL shot, in his first NHL game.

--Michelle Crechiolo
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