GAME DAY VIDEOS
Here's the Verizon Game Day Report... Kris Letang Matt Niskanen --Michelle Crechiolo
We have separate Letang reaction from the Pens players here
...--Addison Smith and Michelle Crechiolo
UPDATES FROM COACH
Penguins coach Dan Bylsma had a couple of updates following morning skate...
- * Marc-Andre Fleury will start in goal
- * Evgeni Malkin and Chris Conner skated on their own before practice
- * And of course, "Kris Letang, as you know, will be in the lineup tonight."
At first, Bylsma finished his updates by saying the rest of his lineup was a game-time decision, like he normally does. But when Jim Colony of 93.7 the Fan asked the coach later about his D-pairings and whether having nine healthy blueliners meant Deryk Engelland would move back up to forward, Bylsma revealed a few things to us about his lineup with Letang back.
- Bylsma said having nine healthy blueliners increases the possibility of Engelland moving up to forward. "I don’t want to say that’s what we’re looking to do or probably going to do. But we did have nine defensemen out there today."
- In terms of the pairings, Bylsma confirmed that they would look like this: Orpik-Martin, Maatta-Niskanen and Scuderi-Letang. "That’s what we’re going in the game tonight."
Bylsma finished by adding with a smile, "Good job getting information out of me, Jim."
- Finally, Bylsma also confirmed that right now, the plan is for Letang to start on the second power-play unit, as we saw in the morning skate.
"We’ve had a shortage of defensemen on our power play the last handful of games," Bylsma explained. "So our No. 1 unit as we saw it the last couple games with Niskanen and Martin will remain the same, and Kris will be on our second unit with us going with two defensemen on that unit. We’ve had different No. 1 units, Kris being on it and not being on it when he was playing throughout the year. Kind of work back into that starting tonight." --Michelle Crechiolo
PENS SKATE PICS
Kris Letang on the ice with his teammates getting ready to play tonight for the first time in 10 weeks
Brooks Orpik trying to make the always serious rookie Olli Maatta crack a smile
Beau Bennett worked on the second power-play unit
Jeff Zatkoff has a lot more trouble seeing around Taylor Pyatt than he does...
...Trying to see around Brian Gibbons
We got the majority of D-men in our photos today
Suttsy had a big game on Sunday with two goals in the shootout win over Colorado
Megna talks with assistant coach Todd Reirden--Michelle Crechiolo and Addison Smith
MORNING SKATE INFO
The Pens just announced that they had re-assigned forward Andrew Ebbett to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, so he is not at the morning skate. The only other players missing are injured forwards Evgeni Malkin, Joe Vitale, Marcel Goc and Chris Conner. Everyone else is accounted for.
Here are the lines and D pairs the Pens used at their morning skate. All of the guys who sat out in the Pens' last game on Sunday in Colorado due to injury - Crosby, Kunitz, Orpik and Maatta (he was sidelined for both of Pittsburgh's weekend games) - all skated in their normal spots after practicing on Tuesday. Letang was paired with Scuderi and was practicing on the second PP unit. So amazing to see.
The other three D (Bortuzzo, Despres, and Engelland) rotated
PP1: Niskanen, Martin, Crosby, Kunitz, Neal.
PP2: Letang, Maatta, Jokinen, Bennett, Sutter.--Michelle Crechiolo
LETANG RETURNS TONIGHT!
The flow is back!!!
Defenseman Kris Letang, 26, will return to the lineup tonight when the Penguins host the Detroit Red Wings 10 weeks after suffering a stroke.
“Finally some good news regarding injuries, Kris Letang will return to play tonight,” general manager Ray Shero said.
Letang, 26, was cleared to participate in full contact practice by doctors on March 17 and has worked the past three weeks with the team. Doctors cleared Letang to return to the ice, but the decision was left to him on when he felt ready.
“Kris has been bugging me for a little while for a return to play,” Shero said. “He feels good on and off the ice so he’ll be back this evening.”Full update is here
SCOUTING THE WINGS
I have all the latest on my hometown team below... --Michelle Crechiolo
PENS-WINGS PREVIEW--Michelle Crechiolo
START THE DAY
Good morning, Penguins fans! Tonight the Penguins host the Red Wings in a potential first-round playoff preview. If the postseason started today, Pittsburgh and Detroit would be playing each other (you can see all of the updated matchups at this handy bracket: http://www.nhl.com/ice/stanleycup.htm
With these two teams playing each other in back-to-back Stanley Cup Finals in 2008 and 2009, it's weird to think they could now meet in the first round. But now that they're both in the Eastern Conference because of the NHL's realignment plan, it's a distinct possibility. As captain Sidney Crosby said yesterday, "I honestly didn’t think about playing them with them being in our conference. I always thought it would be in the Final if we saw them again. But obviously with them coming to the East, it was a possibility.
I feel like both teams play pretty similar. A pretty fast game, play with skill. There was a lot of intensity in the last one. It was a little grittier than maybe previous games, so looked a lot more like that playoff series the last time. I think they’re playing pretty good hockey right now and I think that playing in the Stanley Cup Final a couple times only kind of adds to that."
Before morning skate, general manager Ray Shero will make an announcement regarding the Penguins' roster outside of the locker room. Stay tuned for that and all of the other game day coverage. Before we get started, here's some notes to prepare you for the matchup...
- *The Penguins begin their final homestand of the season against the Detroit Red Wings (TV: NBC Sports Network; Radio: 105.9 the X) at CONSOL Energy Center.
Following tonight’s game, the Penguins will conclude the 2013-14 regular-season with back-to-back home games against Philadelphia and Ottawa this weekend.
- *This is Detroit’s first visit to Pittsburgh since earning 4-1 win against the Penguins on Dec. 13, 2011.
The Penguins have won two of the last three games they have played against Detroit here in Pittsburgh.
- *Pittsburgh’s penalty kill has gone 10-for-10 in the past three games. Before this run, the Penguins had allowed at least one opposition man-advantage tally in six of eight games.
- *If the playoffs began today, the Penguins and Red Wings would be squaring off for the third time in the past seven years. These two squads met in back-to-back Stanley Cup Finals in 2008 and ’09. Detroit won the Cup, 4-2, in ’08; the Penguins were victorious the following year in a thrilling 4-3 series win.
How evenly matched were these two teams during that series? Consider that six of the 13 games were decided by one goal and four others were separated by two goals, with one of those contests featuring an empty-net goal..
- *A win tonight by the Penguins would be the team’s 100th regular-season win at CONSOL Energy Center. Pittsburgh has currently compiled a mark of 99-38-6 in 143 regular-season contests since opening the building in 2010 –the most home wins in the NHL during that span.
Stick tap: Pens PR--Michelle Crechiolo