THIS IS YOUR CAPTAIN SPEAKING...
Checking in with Sidney Crosby before the game...
Coach Bylsma on some of the injuries...
- No update on Vokoun. On a wait and see basis
- Farnham (lower-body) skated in the morning
- Nothing new on Dumoulin (upper-body)
UPDATE: The Pens announced around 1:30 this afternoon that they had re-assigned Farnham to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League. Their training camp roster is now down to 34 players (19 forwards, 12 defensemen, three goaltenders). The updated version is here.
SOME PEOPLE WAIT A LIFETIME...
Pens head coach Dan Bylsma announced that Zatkoff will get the start between the pipes tonight. It's his first full preseason game and it's his chance to show his teammates, coaches and fans that he belongs in the NHL.
"It's exciting, my first preseason start," Zatkoff said. "I've been waiting for this for a long time. I'm excited. I've been preparing for this for a longtime. It will be fun."
Forward Beau Bennett played with Zatkoff for half a season in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton last year and knows him best of all the players in the dressing room.
"He played really well for us down in Wilkes-Barre and has been a pro for a really long time without really getting an opportunity like this," Bennett said. "So, it’ll be interesting to see. He is a great guy to have around the room."
Zatkoff said there may be some nerves before the game, but it won't change how he's going to play.
"I don't want to put too much pressure on myself," Zatkoff said. "I just want to go out and play my game, do what I know I'm capable of doing and let the rest take care of itself."
Cue Kelly Clarkson...
MORNING SKATE PICS
The two-headed monster returns.
"Some people wait a lifetime..."
Neal: I can has cheezburger?
It looks like Letang has a tail.
Attempted creeper photo: busted.
Malkin channels his inner Michael Jordan with the tongue.
Now Neal does his MJ. I swear Neal just copies everything Malkin does.
Fleury's mask can't hide the smile. Speaking of which, Fleury is ready for a bigger role with Vokoun out.
--Sam Kasan & Dave Uhrmacher
Here are how the lines/D-pairs flushed out at the morning skate...
1st PP unit: Crosby, Malkin, Neal, Kunitz and Letang
2nd PP unit: Bennett, D'Agostini, Kobasew, Despres and Niskanen
Pens goalie Jeff Zatkoff has spent his entire professional career stuck behind some of the most talented netminders in the NHL. He started his career in the Los Angeles Kings organization behind the two Jonathans - Quick and Bernier. He signed with the Pens last summer and was third on the depth chart behind Marc-Andre Fleury and Tomas Vokoun. So even though Zatkoff is an extremely talented player, because of the talent and pedigree of the guys in front of him, Jeff hasn't had an opportunity to show what he can do at the NHL level.
Zatkoff has patiently waited a long time for this chance. Michelle Crechiolo spoke to Zatkoff on Sunday about finally having an opportunity to play at the NHL level. ...
But even though it hasn’t been easy for the 26-year-old Michigan native, he has always just focused on what he could control. Even back when the team first signed him, Zatkoff told us about how everyone wants to play up, but he couldn’t stress about that – “you have to worry about the now and taking care of business here. If you do that while you’re down here, then you’ll get that opportunity.”
Like Bylsma said, he is getting it now – and Zatkoff feels like he is ready. He has five full seasons of professional experience, four in the American Hockey League and one in the ECHL. But he has yet to make his NHL debut. Though he’s inexperienced at this level, Bylsma is confident in Zatkoff as his backup goaltender – especially after what he did with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
Meesh's full story is here.
P.S. - During Sunday's practice, Meesh and I were talking about Zatkoff finally getting his moment to play in the NHL. At one point Meesh said, "Jeff's been waiting forever for this moment." Which made me think of Kelly Clarkson's "A Moment Like This." Of course, I had to play the song and sing it to Meesh (these are the things we do to pass the time at practice). Unfortunately though, now every time I think of Zatkoff this song pops in my head. It's torture. I can't get the voices to stop. I blame society.
DICK'S PLAYS OF THE WEEK
START ME UP
Good morning hockey fans! Today the Pens host the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks at CONSOL Energy Center in their fifth preseason contest. The puck drops at 7 p.m. and can be seen on WPCW-TV. (Click here for the complete TV preseason schedule).
Some notes on the Pens' lineup:
- Malkin and Crosby will play together for the first time
- With the Pens using their big guns, we should get a good look at their top PP unit
- Very good chance that Zatkoff gets the start in goal, but we'll have to verify with coach Bylsma
29 MARC-ANDRE FLEURY – G
37 JEFF ZATKOFF – G
2 MATT NISKANEN – D
3 OLLI MAATTA – D
4 ROB SCUDERI – D
9 PASCAL DUPUIS – F
12 CHUCK KOBASEW – F
14 CHRIS KUNITZ – F
15 TANNER GLASS – F
17 DUSTIN JEFFREY – F
18 JAMES NEAL – F
19 BEAU BENNETT – F
22 MATT D’AGOSTINI – F
39 HARRY ZOLNIERCZYK – F
41 ROBERT BORTUZZO – D
46 JOE VITALE – F
47 SIMON DESPRES – D
51 DERRICK POULIOT – D
58 KRIS LETANG – D
71 EVGENI MALKIN – F
87 SIDNEY CROSBY – F