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Penguins Report: Talbot Back In the Lineup

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
The good news keeps coming for Maxime Talbot. The day after he signed a two-year contract extension with the Penguins he will be back in the lineup for Pittsburgh against the Toronto Maple Leafs Saturday night at Mellon Arena at 7 p.m.

“I’m ready go,” Talbot said. “Definitely, I’m going to play tonight.”

Talbot missed the team’s previous two games with an undisclosed injury but is looking forward to getting back on the ice.

“You come back from a little injury and you want to play,” Talbot said. “You want to perform when you play against Toronto, which is always fun games. It’ll definitely be good.”

While Talbot will play, the same can’t be said for forwards Mike Zigomanis and Pascal Dupuis. Zigomanis has been sidelined with an undisclosed injury he suffered Dec. 3 at the New York Rangers. Dupuis left Pittsburgh’s game Thursday at Atlanta and is listed as day-to-day.

“We’re glad that Maxime Talbot will be back tonight but we lost Dupuis,” head coach Michel Therrien said. “This is what we have to deal with. There’s going to be times where it’s not as smooth as you wish but we have to find a way to win games.”

Jeff Taffe will take Dupuis’ spot on the top line with Sidney Crosby and Miroslav Satan.

“Whenever you’re around Sid, it’s kind of nerve racking but at the same time it’s just a game,” Taffe admitted. “I’ll go out there and do as best as I can. Let him touch the puck as much as he wants. He’s such a good player, he creates so much room for everybody else. Basically, you just want to get open for him. Just go stand in front of the net and maybe one will go in off of me.”

“I don’t think things have changed too much,” Crosby said of the adjustment. “Dupuis is probably more familiar with the way we play but Taffe was here for a while last year as well. He’s fit in fine. Other than that, I don’t think we have to change a whole lot.”

The remaining combinations will be: Ruslan Fedotenko-Evgeni Malkin-Petr Sykora; Tim Wallace-Jordan Staal-Matt Cooke; Ryan Stone-Talbot-Eric Godard. Marc-Andre Fleury will make his second straight start in goal.

The Penguins are missing six players from their regular lineup. Currently on the shelf are forwards Dupuis, Tyler Kennedy (IR - knee) and Zigomanis and defensemen Hal Gill (IR - shoulder), Sergei Gonchar (IR - shoulder) and Ryan Whitney (foot).

When you talk about chemistry, it takes time. We’re all about chemistry and stability but right now we’re missing players. It takes some time. - Michel Therrien
“Almost on every line there is a player from Wilkes-Barre,” Therrien said. “It hurts the chemistry. When you talk about chemistry, it takes time. We’re all about chemistry and stability but right now we’re missing players. It takes some time.”

The sun is peaking over the horizon though. Fleury, who missed over a month of action with an undisclosed injury, returned for the Penguins on Thursday, while Whitney is scheduled to play Saturday night for the AHL (American Hockey League) Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and is expected to return for Pittsburgh Dec. 23 against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

“It’s something that we had to go through last year,” Crosby said of the mounting injuries. “The confidence for getting through that was there and you need guys to step up. We’ve had that.

“We’ve probably faced a little more adversity at this point as far as injuries are concerned. To have gone through all that and (to be) standing where we are right now, we should be happy with that but I’m not satisfied.”

> Besides the injuries facing the team, Therrien is also trying to find that delicate balance between playing aggressive while remaining discipline.

“There’s a fine line,” Therrien said. “When the play is there, be aggressive. But when there’s a time to work on your position, you have to work on your position.”

Therrien was unhappy with the way his squad competed in its 6-3 loss to Philadelphia Dec. 13. He pushed them to be more aggressive in practice. The Penguins responded with a 6-3 victory over the Atlanta Thrashers on Thursday.


“I asked our team to be more aggressive,” Therrien said. “They were more aggressive. In the meantime you don’t want to run around. I think we ran around a little too much because we have the will to be a little more aggressive.

“The message that we didn’t compete against the Flyers, we approached that with the team. I thought the guys did a good job of competing. They were playing hard. They were finishing their checks. We want to be a tough team to play against and we were. In the meantime, we have to find a balance.”

> Fleury will wear his usually white pads, glove and blocker against the Leafs instead of the new mustard yellow pads. Fleury felt that the new gear was too stiff and not quite ready for game action.

"There just wasn't enough practice," Fleury said. "I'm still breaking them in."

Fleury wore the new gear all week at practice and planned on wearing them against the Leafs as part of the third-jersey uniform. He'll have another week to break in the gear because Pittsburgh will sport their throw-back uniforms again next Saturday, Dec. 27, against the Montreal Canadiens.

> The Penguins matchup will the Leafs will be the feature game on Hockey Night in Canada. Not that Pittsburgh need any extra insentive but playing on a national stage never hurts.

"I don’t think you can compare it to the first time but it’s always exciting," Crosby said. "I don’t think that’s ever going to change. You grow up watching it on TV and when you get the opportunity (to play) you want to do well."

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