MAATTA OUT, BORTUZZO IN
Defenseman Olli Maatta will miss his first game of the season tonight as he is expected to have surgery on his neck to remove a tumor at some point (note: head coach Mike Johnston said after today's morning skate that the team would provide an update on Maatta in the next 24 hours
That means Robert Bortuzzo will make his season debut against the Wild. Bortuzzo is an abrasive player that likes to play physical, and he wants to get back into that mode "as quick as possible" while staying smart and utilizing his other strengths as well.
"Obviously I’m going to play with an edge, I’m going to add a bit of a snarl," he said. "But I’m not going to let any of that stuff get me out of my game. Things we’ve been preaching here is puck possession, D being involved in the rush and skating. I’m confident in my ability to be able to do some of that stuff as well. And if I can play hard and with that edge and make it hard on some of their high-end skill, I’m going to do that at the same time."
It looks like he will be skating with Christian Ehrhoff. The two have had a couple of practices together to get familiarized with each other's style of play.
"We’ve had the chance to talk about a couple things during practices and off the ice about what we want to do, getting in and out of our zone," Bortuzzo said. "And in the offensive zone, he’s a very talented defenseman. I think we can do some good things together. Getting in and out of our zone, moving pucks up to our talented forwards. And even at the blue line, he’s got a great shot so hopefully I’m going to feed him some pucks and hopefully contribute to what we want to do out there."
SPREADING MAATTA'S MINUTES
Maatta had been averaging 3:02 shorthanded minutes per game, 1:10 power-play minutes and 19:59 overall minutes. Johnston discussed his plan to spread those out amongst the six D-men in the lineup tonight...
- Paul Martin will slot into Maatta's spot on the second PP unit with Ehrhoff.
- Johnston feels comfortable with all six D-men on the PK and believes they can use basically anybody shorthanded.
- The coaching staff will manage Bortuzzo's minutes a little bit in his first game back, but he is a good penalty killer so he can certainly jump into that unit when needed.--Michelle Crechiolo
GAME DAY REPORT
Celina Pompeani and Sam Kasan discuss Robert Bortuzzo's return to the line-up tonight against the Minnesota Wild. --Michelle Crechiolo
PENSTV INTERVIEWS Thomas Greiss Sidney Crosby --Michelle Crechiolo
ANALYSIS IN 140 CHARACTERS --Sam Kasan
QUOTE 'EM--Sam Kasan
PENS SKATE PICS
My favorite part of this picture is Comeau and Downie monkeying around by the bench
Will we see Bortuzzo in the lineup tonight?
Martin and Goc wait their turn
Adams turns up the ice
Head coach Mike Johnston--Michelle Crechiolo and Sam Kasan
MORNING SKATE INFO
Defenseman Olli Maatta is the only player missing from the team's morning skate. He did not make the trip as he is expected to have surgery on his neck at some point. It looks like Robert Bortuzzo will make his season debut in Maatta's place. The team used the following workflow...
STARS ON STARS ON STARS
Pens center Sidney Crosby and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury were both honored with NHL stars. Crosby was named the "Second Star" for the month of October. Fleury was named "Third Star" of the Week. Crosby star details. Fleury star details. --Sam Kasan
On Saturday, the parents of Sidney Crosby, Chris Kunitz, Simon Despres, Paul Martin, Steve Downie, Rob Scuderi, Brandon Sutter and Nick Spaling came for “Parents’ Weekend” to watch their sons in action against the Buffalo Sabres.
Having the parents come together is different from the annual trips in the past, where either the moms or the dads would go separately and spend a few days traveling with their sons to different cities on the road.
“That’s good she’s here, because she remembers more than I do,” joked Martin’s father Dale of being there with his wife Beverly. “So after we introduce ourselves, I can always go back to her and ask who was that again? Or what was their name and how many kids did they have? So that helps.” Full story here. --Sam Kasan
DIGITAL PREVIEW--Sam Kasan
SCOUTING THE WILD --Sam Kasan
START ME UP
Good morning hockey fans. Tonight the Pens travel to the land of 10,000 lakes, Minnesota, to battle the Wild. Minnesota is off to a strong start, 7-3, behind former Pens assistant coach and current head coach Mike Yeo. Here are some game notes to get you ready for the action...
- The Penguins begin a season-long five-game road stretch against the Minnesota Wild (TV: ROOT SPORTS; Radio: 105.9 the X) at Xcel Energy Center.
- The five-game road trip concludes Friday, Nov. 14 at Toronto. This is Pittsburgh’s longest stretch of consecutive road games this season.
- Last season the Penguins split the season series against the Minnesota, 1-1, with each team winning at their home rink respectively.
- Sidney Crosby is Pittsburgh’s all-time leading scorer versus Minnesota with nine points (3G-6A) in seven career games.
- Marc-Andre Fleury did not appear in either game last year against Minnesota; while backup goaltender Thomas Greiss stopped 55 of 58 shots (.948SVP) and had a 1.51GAA (3GA/119MIN) in his two starts versus the Wild as a member of the Arizona Coyotes.
- Pittsburgh’s has won two of the last three meetings against Minnesota dating back to Oct. 18, 2011.
(Stick tap: Pens PR)
Today we're going to start the day with Minnesota group Owl City and "Fireflies." --Sam Kasan