LETANG OFF IR; DESPRES TO WBS
The Pens have removed defenseman Kris Letang from IR, meaning he is able to play at any time. Although his status isn't official yet, this is a good sign that he could play tonight. Head coach Dan Bylsma said he was "very close" this morning. And with his removal from IR would indicate he's ready. We'll have to wait until the official lineup comes out. Either way, Letang is once again healthy.
To make room on their roster for Letang's return, the Pens sent blueliner Simon Despres to WBS. Now this move shouldn't be looked at as a demotion. It was merely the smart thing to do in a numbers situation. Despres and Beau Bennett are the only two players on the current roster that don't need to clear waivers. Anyone else, the Pens would likely lose through waivers (such as Robert Bortuzzo or Deryk Engelland). So it's no knock on Despres' play. Simply the reality of the situation.
And keep in mind, general manager Ray Shero said that the nine defensemen they had on the roster were likely to be the nine they take for the stretch run and into the playoffs. Meaning that Despres may be back soon. NHL teams are allowed to expand their rosters beyond 23 men after the April 3rd trade deadline. So don't be surprised if the Pens bring Despres back to Pittsburgh at that point.
When he was brought to Pittsburgh, Therrien took over a Penguins team that lacked discipline and commitment with the hangover of four consecutive seasons at the bottom of the league’s standings. It was a tall task, but he quickly turned them from bottom dweller to contender.
“My first time in Pittsburgh I had to change the culture a lot because that team was in last place for four years,” he said. “There was a reason why. I wanted to make sure when I got here we had the right attitude to be winners. The young guys bought into it.”
Full story here.
MORROW TALKS PENS DEBUT
Morrow spoke to the media following his first morning skate as a Penguin about his mindset heading into his debut this evening. For him, the biggest challenge going into tonight is balancing the adjustments of coming to a new, unfamiliar team with not overthinking the game, either. He had a lot of fantastic insight on that; read the full story here.
--Sam Kasan & Drew Hancherick
Fleury stretches the legs
Dupuis and Bennett play catch
Letang chats with Crosby
Orpik goes glove side on Fleury
Head coach Dan Bylsma had a few lineup/injury notes...
- Malkin and Letang are still day-to-day. Both are really close.
- Cooke is "playing with an injury, hurt a little bit." It's better for him to just play and not have two skates in a day.
- Morrow will play tonight.
- Lineup will be game-time decision.
- Fleury will be starting in goal.
MORNING SKATE INFO
Matt Cooke and Douglas Murray (travel) are absent from the team's skate. Evgeni Malkin did not work with a line and Kris Letang worked on the fourth D-pair. A sign that they will not return tonight.
Morrow skated on the second line with Dustin Jeffrey and James Neal. He also worked at the net-front on the team's second power-play unit.
WELCOME MR. MORROW
Pens gave a ceremonial stick tap to welcome their new teammate
--Sam Kasan & Michelle Crechiolo
When Brenden Morrow had to decide whether or not to waive his no trade clause and come to Pittsburgh, he got some good advice from his 8-year-old daughter Bryelle...
“I had an early flight this morning and got up and gave a kiss to my 8-year-old and said I was taking off,” Morrow said. “She handled it pretty well. We had the talk the night before. I got a text when I landed in Atlanta from my wife. She said, ‘Bryelle came into the room two minutes after you left and saw me crying. And she said, ‘Mom, it’s going to be OK. It’s only a couple months and he’s got a chance to win a Cup.’” Those are poignant words from Bryelle, as it’s every player’s goal to win a Stanley Cup. But for her dad, having a legitimate opportunity to do that at this point in his career means everything.
Full story here.
AFTERMATH: THE SHAKE OUT FROM THE TRADES
With the addition of Morrow and Murray, there will be a lot of implications on the roster and questions to be answered. Yesterday I took a look at what the new guys bring, what the Pens gave up to get them and where they'll fit in.
The Pens added two players that will help them in the postseason: physical guys that will get their hands dirty (as well as a third-round pick in 2013).
Since the Pens have added two pieces to the lineup without losing any pieces, it makes for an interesting fallout. If Morrow is placed with Malkin and Neal, where does Beau Bennett end up? Does he play on the third line? Does he go back to WBS? And if Morrow plays on the third line, does he take Cooke’s or Kennedy’s position? And if so, does that push Cooke/Kennedy to the fourth line? And with a completely healthy roster, where does Dustin Jeffrey end up?
Full analysis here.
The Canadiens put on a dazzling display of offense that evening at the Bell Centre, scoring six goals against the Penguins. They have one of the league’s top offenses – tied for sixth in the NHL – and what’s especially dangerous about them is their balanced attack, as they get contributions from all their lines. That being said, the trio of Michael Ryder, Tomas Plekanec and Brian Gionta has been Montreal’s most productive recently. Ryder has 11 points (4G-7A) in 11 games since being acquired from Dallas on Feb. 25, Plekanec leads the team with 12 goals and has seven points (2G-5A) in his last seven games while captain Gionta has six goals in 11 games this month.
The Canadiens also have defensemen who are threats in the offensive zone. P.K. Subban leads all NHL defensemen with nine goals, and he and Andrei Markov both rank in the top 10 in scoring among league blueliners. They’re both crucial components of Montreal’s power play, especially Markov. He averages 4:56 minutes per game and has a league leading 18 points on the man-advantage.
Full game preview here.
START THE DAY
Good morrow Pens fans! Forward Brenden Morrow will be making his Penguins debut tonight when the Penguins take on the Montreal Canadiens at CONSOL Energy Center at 7 p.m. He'll be wearning jersey No. 10 (Tanner Glass is now 15, and Dustin Jeffrey switched to 17). We'll keep an eye on the morning skate lines to see if he works on the second or third line. (New D-man Douglas Murray will not play tonight. He is traveling today to Pittsburgh).
Meanwhile, tonight's game is a battle between the top two teams in the Eastern Conference. And the return of Habs head coach Michel Therrien to Pittsburgh.
Needless to say, lots of drama. Don't miss it!
In order for Morrow to accept a trade to Pittsburgh, he had to waive the "no trade clause" in his contract. After a trade agreement was in place between Dallas and Pittsburgh, Penguins GM Ray Shero called Morrow to pitch him on the idea of coming to Pittsburgh. I wonder if his pitch was somewhat along the lines of Everclear's "I Will Buy You a New Life." After all, even Morrow admitted that coming to Pittsburgh will give him a new lease on life and a chance to win a Stanley Cup.