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The Inside Scoop: Game Day (Pens vs. 'Yotes)

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

Good afternoon and happy trade deadline day! Pens management will be on the phones and working deals to try and improve the team up until the 3 p.m. deadline.

“We’re still in business,” general manager Jim Rutherford said. “Why would we close the door … You never know what will come up.”

While management is doing their thing, the Pens will be in action on the ice. Pittsburgh will host the Arizona Coyotes.

The Pens held an optional morning skate. Notable absentees were Sidney Crosby, Chris Kunitz, Kris Letang, Patric Hornqvist, Phil Kessel, Conor Sheary and Jeff Zatkoff.

Marc-Andre Fleury will get the start in goal.

A few Pens were held off the ice for Sunday’s practice for maintenance: Evgeni Malkin, Bryan Rust and Sheary. While Malkin and Rust will be in the lineup, Sheary will not.

“I’m feeling good,” Rust said. “They decided to give me a maintenance day (Sunday) and I should be good to go tonight.”

When forward Sergei Plotnikov arrived at CONSOL Energy Center this morning, he came to the home locker room as a Penguin. But when he puts on his equipment for the game tonight, he’ll be wearing a Coyote on his chest.

In an interesting twist, the Pens pulled an early trade with the acquisition of forward Matthias Plachta and a 2017 conditional 7th-round pick from Arizona in exchange for Plotnikov.

Arizona’s equipment managers collected Plotnikov’s gear earlier this morning, and he will likely be in the lineup for the ‘Yotes tonight against his former team.

The Pens have a few players on their roster that played a lot against the Arizona Coyotes, and they gave us a scouting report on the team.

“They started off really well and are treading lately,” Trevor Daley said. “They’re a good, young team. (Head coach) Dave Tippett, all his teams are well coached.”

“They have a lot of speed up front and their defensemen are very mobile, they can play both ways,” Olli Maatta added. “The key for us is to play with the puck ourselves. I know it’s a cliché, but offense is the best defense.”

Maatta was a teammate of Coyotes rookie sensation Max Domi with London of the Ontario Hockey League. Domi has 17 goals and 42 points this season.

“I know he’s not going to take it easy on me tonight,” Maatta joked.

A couple guys commented on today’s trade deadline:

Olli Maatta: “It’s always tough, but everyone knows it’s a part of the business.”

Derrick Pouliot: “It’s a little bit stressful for lots of guys I think, but you can’t worry too much about it. If something happens it happens. There’s not a whole lot you can do about it. That’s tough for sure. You build lasting friendships with a lot of these guys throughout the season and when something happens and somebody gets traded it’s tough on everybody.”

Ian Cole: “You kind of try not to think about it. I mean it’s something that you can drive yourself crazy thinking about. Something that you can look at every possibility, and you’ll be up all day up all night trying to figure out what could possibly happen and really when it comes down to it you don’t have much control over that. So I think to try to stay as sane as possible you try not to think about it, and you try to just go about doing your job and do it the best you can.”
Carl Hagelin: “It’s special day that you don't want to be a part of, but if it happens it happens and it’s part of the business, and I think everyone understand that going into the day, but you have to take it for what it is.”

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