GAME DAY REPORT
ISLES LINEUP NOTES
MEGNA MAY MAKE NHL DEBUT
Jayson Megna has dressed in the Penguins locker room before for prospect development camp and training camp. But on Friday as he stood at his locker stall, it was different. He had just participated in his first real morning skate and will likely make his NHL debut tonight against the New York Islanders after being called up from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Thursday.
“I mean, it’s the Pittsburgh Penguins,” he said when asked what it’s like to be here. “It’s one of the best organizations in the NHL and I’m obviously very fortunate to get this opportunity. I feel blessed and humbled that I get the chance to be here.”
Megna, wearing No. 59, skated on the right wing of the third line with Brandon Sutter and Tanner Glass at yesterday’s practice and today’s morning skate. He said the two veterans have been key in helping him get acclimated in the 24 hours he has been here.
“They’ve been great,” Megna said. “’Suttsy’ explains every drill to me before it happens whether I know it or not just to make sure I’m on the same page. Tanner has been the same way. Everyone has been really helpful so far since I’ve been here.”
But what’s also helped the 23-year-old Megna get comfortable quickly is that Pittsburgh and WBS play the same systems for situations just like this.
“It’s seamless,” Megna said. “The drills are even the same, that’s why even though sometimes Suttsy comes over and tells me the drill, I’ve done it before. It’s been great that Wilkes-Barre and Pittsburgh are so similar. It makes a situation like mine, being able to come up and kind of just transition easily into the system.”
If Megna does play, look for him to potentially see time on the Penguins penalty kill. He has been tremendous there for Wilkes-Barre tostart the season, with two shorthanded game-winners. The coaching staff also wants him to be effective with his skating, as Dan Bylsma said he has “NHL speed.”
He’ll have his parents and sister in the stands watching if he’s in the lineup (his brother can’t make it as he plays for Nebraska-Omaha, just like Megna did, and has a game of his own tonight).
“It would mean everything. It would be awesome,” he said of potentially playing tonight. “This is what I’ve worked for my whole life. I’m excited and a little nervous to see what happens here, but I’ll definitely have fun with it and definitely looking forward to it if it ends up happening.”
The Islanders held an optional skate this morning. Twelve skaters and two goalies took part.
--Sam Kasan & Dave Uhrmacher
--Sam Kasan, Michelle Crechiolo & Dave Uhrmacher
Defenseman Kris Letang will make his season debut tonight when the Pens take on the New York Islanders. He has missed the opening nine games of the regular season with a lower-body injury.
“I’m excited,” Letang said. “With the team’s success I’ve been watching every game from the press box. I’m excited to be a part of the team on the ice and help them to win.”
Letang typically logs around 25-plus minutes per game. Letang feels that his conditioning is well enough that he could see his usual workload.
“My legs and conditioning have never been an issue,” he said. “It’s something I work on even when I’m injured. I’m not going to worry about that. That’s the reason I like to work really hard off the ice and making sure my conditioning is as high as it was before.
“We’ll go with the flow and see how it goes. The first shift will be the first step.”
Head coach Dan Bylsma said the team will monitor Letang’s minutes.
The Penguins are also dressing blueliner Deryk Engelland as a forward on the fourth line. If Letang needs a breather then Engelland could always step back into a defensive position. However, the plan for the game is to keep Engelland at forward.
Head coach Dan Bylsma confirmed a few things at his post-morning skate media session...
- Letang will return to the lineup
- Zatkoff gets the start in goal
- Engelland will play as a forward
Will Megna make his NHL debut tonight?
Should I stay or should I go? Stay.
Kunitz is not impressed with this conversation about antique Chinese dolls
Who will get the start in goal? Fleury? Or Zatkoff?
No doubt this two-headed monster will be in the lineup.
Strike a pose
Will the hair return tonight? Unleash the locks.
--Sam Kasan & Dave Uhrmacher
MORNING SKATE INFO
Looks like Letang is back and Engelland is on the fourth line - if the morning skate lines hold true.
1st PP: Letang, Martin on points. Crosby, Kunitz, Malkin down low.
2nd PP: Niskanen, Maatta on points. Jokinen, Megna, Kobasew down low.
A PEEK IN(SIDE) THE ROOM
Take a look back at the Pens' opening game with Tanner Glass mic'd up.
Neal visited the Boys and Girls Club in Carnegie on Thursday afternoon to announce his new ticket program, “Neal’s Neighborhood,” which provides four tickets to every Penguins home game for the 2013-14 season to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Pittsburgh. The tickets will be distributed throughout the local clubs and will provide families the opportunity to attend a game.
“I got four tickets for some kids and their families to be able to come to games,” Neal said. “They aren’t able to afford to go to Penguins games. For me to help them out is easy and I know how excited they are to go. It’s fun to be able to put a smile on their face.”
Full story here.
Olli Watch came to an official end Thursday morning after Penguins general manager Ray Shero made the following statement on the team's official Twitter account:
"Based on his play, we believe this is the best decision for Olli and the Penguins. We want to thank Mark and Dale Hunter and the London Knights for their patience and understanding."
Michelle Crechiolo gives you to scoop from Maatta and his teammates reaction to the news.
Maatta has earned the right to stay
The rookie defenseman has experienced a gauntlet of emotions today – starting with butterflies in his stomach going into his meeting with Bylsma and general manager Ray Shero this morning and not knowing what he was going to hear. Would he stay or go back to his junior team?
“Of course I was nervous about it,” Maatta said. “I was more nervous than I was before (Monday’s) game.”
That anxiety turned to happiness and excitement as Shero and Bylsma told Maatta Thursday he would be remaining with the Penguins after playing his ninth NHL game on Monday against Colorado (staying means his three-year entry-level contract has kicked in and he will lose the first season of his deal regardless of how long he is here).
It’s been an incredible few weeks for the 19-year-old Maatta, who had been quietly thrilled just to make his NHL debut earlier this month – telling me “you don’t even realize how big this is (for me). This is my dream.”
Full story here.
Maatta's work ethic, professionalism wins over teammates
“He’s been really professional and you can tell he’s committed off the ice,” captain Sidney Crosby said. “He’s working hard in the gym and he’s really done everything he’s had to to give himself a chance to stay.”
Veteran defenseman Brooks Orpik agreed.
“He comes in and he’s obviously a confident kid with the way he plays, but the confidence comes from his work ethic and how he prepares,” Orpik said. “For a kid his age, I've never seen a kid work as hard as this kid off the ice. And it comes with zero ego, which is refreshing.”
Full story here.
TWITTER Q&A: ROBERT BORTUZZO
PET CALENDAR PHOTO SHOTO
Who doesn't love puppies? On Wednesday and Thursday the Penguins did their yearly photo shoot for the Pens and Paws calendar. Proceeds from the calendar benefit the Animal Rescue League and Wildlife Center in Pittsburgh.
For a preview of tonight's action click here. For a scouting report on the Isles, watch the video below.
START ME UP
Good morning hockey fans! Tonight the Pens battle the New York Islanders in a re-match of last season's opening-round playoff matchup. More importantly though, it appears defenseman Kris Letang may return to the lineup tonight. We'll keep you posted on the latest from the team's morning skate so stay right here for the latest info.
Here are some tidbits on tonight's game...
- The Penguins conclude their three-game homestand against the NY Islanders (7 p.m.; TV: ROOT SPORTS; Radio: 105.9 the X) at CONSOL Energy Center.
- Tonight’s game is the first meeting between the teams since their high-scoring Round 1 postseason meeting this past spring.
- Last season the Penguins won the season series against the Islanders, 4-1, outscoring them by a 17-9 margin.
- The Penguins enter tonight’s game with a four-game winning streak against the Islanders and a 16-4-1 record in the last 21 overall regular-season meetings between the teams.
- Pittsburgh enters tonight’s game having gone 15-2 in its last 17 home games against the Islanders. During that stretch the Penguins have scored three or more goals in 12 of the 17 games.
- The Penguins are 21-4 in their last 25 home games against the Islanders.
- Tonight the Penguins play the front end of the team’s second set of back-to-back games. Pittsburgh split its first set of back-to-backs, losing 6-3 at Florida on Oct. 11 and rebounding with a 5-4 win the next night at Tampa Bay.
(Stick tap: Pens PR)
Today's song comes courtesy of @NordicMike73: Soundgarden "By Crooked Steps." This has to be the first-ever rock video featuring a low-speed segway chase. The ultimate height of drama.
(This season I'm asking you guys to send your song picks to start the blog, whatever gets them pumped for the game or just a song that you really enjoy. If you'd like to put in a request tweet me at @PensInsideScoop and use the hashtag #PensReportSong).