Here's a great story from mine and Michelle's friend Nicholas Cotsonika on the Pens' Kunitz-Crosby-Dupuis line.
It was unfortunate. It was frustrating. But it was also laying the foundation for Crosby to reclaim his spot atop the sport, for the old linemates to click again, for Kunitz and Dupuis to produce at a greater rate than ever before. Under the circumstances, out of necessity, the three of them honed their particular brand of hockey – chip-and-go, tight quarters, board battles, quick hands, sharp passes.
“I think that’s what we’re doing right now,” Dupuis said. “I think if you see all the stuff that we do, it’s not, like, a cross-ice saucer pass and a nice goal. It’s all quick stuff.”
Crosby entered Tuesday night leading the NHL in scoring with 48 points, eight more than anyone else. He was on a 130-point pace for a full 82-game season. When he went down in January 2011, he was on a 132-point pace – far in front, headed for a career high.
Full story here.
VERIZON GAME DAY REPORT
Alex Ovechkin has 11 goals on the season
Holtby gets the start in goal
--Michelle Crechiolo, Drew Hancherick & Sam Kasan
BEHIND ENEMY LINES
The Pens had a special visitor to their morning skate. Soldier Pat McIlvain was on hand to watch the skate and meet some of the players in the locker room afterward.
McIlvain was deployed to Afghanistan. During a firefight he was shot in the head. McIlvain is in a wheelchair and cannot see, but hockey is his first love and he enjoys being at the rink and hearing the sounds of hockey. He speaks very little, but his family and therapists say he always tends to be a little more talkative after visiting the Penguins. This is his third visit to the Pens.
Crosby shakes McIlvain's hand
McIlvain with Adams
Here is a video of McIlvain's visit last season...
THEY SAID IT...
Malkin at his first team practice since suffering an upper-body injury over a week ago
Neal and Dupuis all smiles to have "Geno" back
Martin with a solid goatee
Neal wants the puck
Another one of Malkin
Niskanen full swing
Goalie friends (Fleury and Vokoun)
Crosby, 'nuff said
--Michelle Crechiolo & Sam Kasan
COACHSPEAK WITH DAN BYLSMA...
Head coach Dan Bylsma said that Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang will not be in the lineup tonight against Washington. Matt Cooke, and the rest of the lineup, will be game-time decisions. Marc-Andre Fleury starting in goal for Pens.
Bylsma added that if Cooke is unavailable to play, the team will dress seven defensemen.
MALKIN "FEELS GOOD"
Malkin spoke with the media after his first team practice. He said he feels good and that Tuesday's practice was just another step in his recovery. He hopes to play Friday in Long Island. Below is the full script of his interview...
On how he feels:
I feel good, practicing with the team the first time. I feel pretty good. Just the next step to getting healthy.
On what he was working on with Kadar:
Oh, I don’t like skating with him (laughs), but it’s better for me just to get in better shape. My legs are feeling better. Work a little bit battling in the corner. Not bad.
On if he is a possibility to play Friday:
Yeah, I hope. I miss hockey. I miss my team. I hope Friday, yeah.
On having to watch his team from the sidelines:
It’s hard to watch, of course. But I’m glad the team won the last five games. They’re playing unbelievable right now. It’s easy to watch because I know the team is tough right now.
--Sam Kasan & Michelle Crechiolo
MORNING SKATE INFO
Malkin remained on the ice for the team's morning skate. Kris Letang and Matt Cooke were absent. Malkin took line rushes in Cooke's vacated spot. We'll get the official word on Malkin and Cooke's status from coach Bylsma.
Update: Power play units had Niskanen taking Letang's spot on the point with top unit.
Evgeni Malkin, who has missed the past five games with an upper-body injury, worked prior to the team's morning skate with strength and conditioning coach Mike Kadar.
The Capitals begin a four-game road trip in Pittsburgh feeling good after beating Buffalo, but they still have a lot of work to do to make the playoffs. It seemed like the Capitals were turning their season around when they recently won five of six games, only to go on a stretch where they lost four of six. With 20 games left in the season and seven points behind Southeast Division leader Winnipeg, getting wins this week is crucial for the Capitals. “It’s biggest week for us,” Alex Ovechkin told Katie Carrera of the Washington Post. “How we going to play this week, we can end the season this week or we continue to fight for the playoffs.”
They should get a lift whenever heart-and-soul winger and team leader Brooks Laich returns to the lineup, who has not played yet this season with a groin injury. He could make his season debut on this road trip, as he’s getting closer to being game ready. The Capitals have also been without top defenseman Mike Green, who has yet to play this month with a groin injury.
Full preview here.
START THE DAY
Good morning Pens fans! Today the Pens hit the ice at CONSOL Energy Center at 10:30 a.m. for their morning skate. They'll take on rival Washington tonight at 7:30 p.m.
We'll start the day with one of my favorite singer/songwriters - and a Pittsburgh native - William Fitzsimmons. Here is his beautiful song "Passion Play." I promise you won't be disappointed.