Pens-Leafs preview Start the day
Katie O'Malley gets you ready for tonight's matchup in the Verizon Game Day Report --Sam Kasan
ULFIE'S GREATEST HITS
In honor of Philip making his NHL debut tonight, here are some of his dad's greatest hits as a Penguin (pun intended...ha). --Sam Kasan
SAMUELSSON SET TO MAKE NHL DEBUT
Philip Samuelsson has carried his family’s legacy wherever he plays, which is especially renowned here in Pittsburgh as his dad, Ulf, was a defenseman on the Penguins’ back-to-back Stanley Cup championship teams in 1991 and ’92.
But regardless of his last name, Philip has had to earn everything he’s gotten at the professional level, including his first NHL call-up – which has finally come in his third season with the organization.
“It is pretty exciting,” said Samuelsson, who will make his NHL debut tonight against Toronto. “It is my first time being up here in the regular season. I always have some nerves but it has been a pretty exciting experience so far.”Full story here.--Michelle Crechiolo
PENSTV SOUNDRob Scuderi Philip Samuelsson
-- Dave Uhrmacher
A little drill work using cones
American-born (and potential U.S. Olympian) James van Riemsdyk
Team discusses the current state of U.S.-Canadian relations
Captain Dion Phaneuf
Phil Kessel is another player who could potentially be playing for U.S. Olympic coach Dan Bylsma
Lots of pucks behind the Leafs netminder
-- Drew Hancherick and Dave Uhrmacher
GLASS STRENGTHENING HAND
Penguins forward Tanner Glass joined his teammates on the ice for their Monday morning skate. A broken hand has kept him out of the lineup for the past three weeks, but he is 3-5 days from getting back into game action.
“Just over three weeks (out) from the injury and I feel really good,” Glass said. “First skate today was good with no cast or brace. There's still some work to be done, but I feel really good.”
Before he can return, Glass needs to continue strengthening his hand.
“I think the break's pretty solid at this point,” he said. “I don't have a splint or a cast on it right now, so that's nice for the first day. But it's also been immobilized now for a few weeks, so it's a matter of getting everything back up to snuff so I can trust my hand on my stick. Right now it just feels a little weak and a little unstable.
“I've had the brace on where it hasn't let my second two fingers close. It's just a matter of strengthening until I feel comfortable holding the stick.”
Glass, who will wear extra protection on the outside of his glove, was fortunate that the injury didn’t hinder his ability to skate and maintain his conditioning.
“It's been a blessing I can keep skating and keep my cardio in shape pretty much right from the start,” he said. “So I feel really good wind-wise and skating-wise out there, it's just the hand that will take a little bit of time.”
SCUDERI 7-10 DAYS FROM RETURN
Penguins defenseman Rob Scuderi is inching closer and closer to returning to the lineup. He skated with his teammates for the first time Monday since suffering a broken ankle Oct. 26, but is still 7-10 days away from playing.
“I think I am pretty far ahead of schedule,” Scuderi said after the morning skate. “I had a couple of X-rays recently. They just don’t feel quite comfortable enough that I can play. I can practice with the team, which is a great step for me to get some reps and be around the team.”
Scuderi has been skating on his with strength and conditioning coach Mike Kadar, building his strength and conditioning before returning to practice.
Scuderi’s biggest test may be staying patient until team doctors approve him to return to the lineup.
“It is a little disappointing when you feel so good on the ice but they don’t let you do what you really want to do,” he said. “I understand that it is part of the process. I’m not an expert. Sometimes you have to put your faith in some other people.
“I’ll leave that up to them. It feels good, I feel good doing on-ice, off-ice stuff. It is just a matter of time now.”
Scuderi suffered the injury in a freak accident when he fell awkwardly on the ice in a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs following a hit from David Clarkson.
“It was just the way I landed,” Scuderi said. “I have no problem with the hit. It is hockey. It had nothing to with (the injury). My leg got caught up a little bit with Clarkson, but it was nothing he did on purpose. It was just a strange landing.”
Stranger than the landing has been the rash of injuries to the Penguins defensive corps. Right now their top-4 blueliners are on Injured Reserve.
“Usually it might be one guy at a time that is out for 4-5 weeks. I haven’t seen it pile up like it has,” Scuderi said, “but it really speaks to the depth of the organization. You can’t say enough about the guys. It is a next-man-up mentality.
“Kind of waiting for someone to Nancy Kerrigan my foot here the way they have been going.”
ENGELLAND'S REACTION TO HIT/HEARING
Defenseman Deryk Engelland received a match penalty and ejection following a hit he laid on Detroit’s Justin Abdelkader in Saturday’s game. On the play, both players were skating for a loose puck in the neutral zone when Engelland leaned in for a check. Unfortunately, he caught Abdelkader’s head and knocked him out of the game.
“I am trying to get his body,” Engelland said of the play. “I don’t know if he is poking the puck and trying to get around or something. As his head comes up I catch it, I think his shoulder and head when he is trying to jump around. I’m expecting him to finish his check and I have to protect myself instead of turning away, getting hit and going head first into the boards. That is what I am thinking on that play and we had a similar one earlier so I was expecting the same sort of thing.”
Engelland will have an in-person meeting with the NHL’s Player Safety Department regarding the hit in New York City, which surprised the blueliner.
“Watching the hit, I’m just trying to make a hockey play, stick-on-puck. Kind of protect myself going into the wall there, too,” Engelland said. “To hear that is in-person, I don’t know how exactly they decide, but it is what it is. Just got to see what happens.
“I have no idea (what to expect from the meeting). I have never had one so I can’t tell you that. I’m not sure what to expect. Just try to explain what I was thinking on the play and see what happens.”
Head coach Dan Bylsma was also caught off guard by the NHL's request to meet with Engelland in person.
"I was surprised to learn that after the game," Bylsma said. "Deryk was suspended before. There is a history. ... I think Deryk's intention is to go stick-on-puck and not really looking for too much physical contact, just protecting himself."
Engelland said he wasn’t targeting Abdelkader’s head on the play. Although Engelland’s arm extends, it happens following the initial contact.
“I think it is just a follow through. Obviously, I’m not trying to target his head or anything like that,” Engelland said. “My arm comes up a while after I already hit him. I don’t think the arm coming up has anything to do with getting him in the head or anything like that. It is just balance or following through on a hit. If you are body-to-body, you are pushing off with your arm so that is kind of why my arm comes up.”
Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma had quite a few injury/lineup notes in his post-morning skate address...
- Malkin is day-to-day with lower-body injury
- Scuderi 7-9 days away, could return post-Christmas break
- Letang on IR and eligible to return post-Christmas break
- Glass 3-5 days away from returning
- Fleury starting in goal
Rob Scuderi back at team practice
Glass is also back working with the team
Neal with the coach
An angry Despres with an angry 'stache
Jeff Zatkoff reaches to quench his thirst
Marc-Andre Fleury stretching out the leg
Philip Samuelsson could make his NHL debut tonight. If he does, he and father Ulf would be the fifth father-son duo to suit up for the Penguins.
Dumoulin worked on the team's top PP unit
--Dave Uhrmacher & Sam Kasan
MORNING SKATE INFO
The Pens had some positive news from their morning skate as defenseman Rob Scuderi (broken ankle) and forward Tanner Glass (broken hand) both were on the ice with the team and ran through drills. However, Evgeni Malkin – who left the Pens' last game Saturday night in Detroit with a lower-body injury – was not on the ice.
The team used the following workflow...
PP1: Dumoulin skated with the top unit alongside Niskanen on the point. Crosby, Kunitz, Jokinen down low.
PP2: Despres and Maatta worked the points. Kobasew, Sutter and Dupuis/Neal were down low.
YOUNG D GETTING TESTED
This morning the Pens announced they had placed defenseman Kris Letang on IR with an upper-body injury. The Pens' top-4 blueliners are all now on IR (Scuderi, Martin, Orpik, Letang). With Deryk Engelland expected to hear from the NHL regarding his hit on Justin Abdelkader Saturday night, the team recalled blueliner Philip Samuelsson from WBS.
That means the Pens will likely have the following defensemen in the lineup tonight: Niskanen, Despres, Bortuzzo, Dumoulin, Maatta and Samuelsson. Combined Despres (60), Bortuzzo (39), Maatta (34), Dumoulin (1) and Samuelsson (0) have played in 134 career NHL games.
The team also recalled Harry Zolnierczyk from WBS. More details here on Samuelsson and Zolnierczyk.
The Maple Leafs were 2-8 before breaking out with an impressive 7-3 win over the Chicago Blackhawks Saturday night. For more on the Leafs check out my scouting report below...
START THE DAY
Good morning hockey fans! Tonight the Pens host the Toronto Maple Leafs at CONSOL Energy Center. Here are some game notes to get you ready for the action (stick tap to Pens PR)...
- The Penguins host the Toronto Maple Leafs (TV: ROOT SPORTS; Radio: 105.9 the X) at CONSOL Energy Center.
- Pittsburgh enters tonight having won three straight games and eight of its last nine contests.
- The Penguins own a season-high seven-game home winning streak –the longest active streak in the NHL.
- A win tonight allows the Penguins to finish with a winning record against the Maple Leafs for the second straight year and the fourth time in the last five seasons.
- Pittsburgh hasn’t finished the season series against Toronto with a losing record since going 1-3 in 2008-09.
- The Penguins are 4-1 in their last five home games against Toronto.
- Pittsburgh’s power play has scored at least once in 10 of its last 13 games, including five games with multiple goals. During that stretch the Penguins are 16-for-41 (39%).