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The Inside Scoop: Maatta Update, Orpik Hit and Game 2 Lookback

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
There is no update yet on the status of Pens defenseman Olli Maatta, who is still being evaluated by the team’s doctors and medical staff


Maatta’s availability for Game 3 Monday night is still uncertain, though, head coach Mike Sullivan said that he is “not optimistic.”  

Maatta suffered an injury in the first period of Game 2 following a hit from Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik.

Sullivan didn’t mince words when asked his opinion of the hit following last night’s game.

“I thought it was a late hit. I thought it was a target to his head,” Sullivan said. “I think it’s the type of hit that everyone in hockey is trying to remove from the game. That’s who I saw it.”

The Pens hope to have more information on Maatta’s health condition Monday morning.

ORPIK HEARING
Orpik had a hearing Sunday with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety for his hit on Maatta.

But the Pens offered their views prior to the hearing.

“It looked bad right away originally,” captain Sidney Crosby said last night. “You can word it however you want, but it didn’t look good.”

“I thought it was late, obviously,” forward Phil Kessel said this afternoon. “If you watch the play, Olli didn’t need to get hit there.”

NEXT MAN UP
If the Pens do not have the services of Maatta, that means someone else will be inserted into the lineup. Pittsburgh has two current options in Justin Schultz or Derrick Pouliot.

Sullivan did not tip his hand, but noted that the team feels comfortable with either option.

“We have a couple of guys that are good players that have helped us win,” Sullivan said. “The coaching staff will decide which guy we’ll put in there that is the best guy to help us win.”

Schultz, 25, made his NHL postseason debut in Game 1 of the Pens’ First Round series against the NY Rangers, but hasn’t seen game action since. Pouliot, 22, has never played in an NHL playoff game in his career.

SKATE NOTES
The Pens held an optional practice on Sunday afternoon at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry.

Seven players took part in the optional: goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and Jeff Zatkoff; forwards Beau Bennett and Oskar Sundqvist; and defensemen Schultz, Pouliot and Kris Letang.

That last name is not a typo. Letang took part in the optional skate after logging 35:22 minutes of ice time in Game 2 last night.

“We thought he needed a little bit more work,” Nick Bonino said with a smile.

MASTERTON HONOR
Forward Pascal Dupuis, who decided to no longer play hockey in December due to health concerns, was named a finalist for the NHL’s Masterton Trophy, which is awarded to the player that best exemplifies perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to the sport of hockey.

“It’s a great honor to be nominated,” Dupuis said. “This time of year is the hardest. You want to be a part of the battles with the guys. When you have health issues and have to step away from the game … It’s hard to watch.”

Dupuis, 37, was selected by the local chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association as the team’s nominee following two-plus arduous seasons of battling through several health conditions – including an ACL/MCL tear and two blood clots.

Dupuis is still around the team on a daily basis, offering advice and trying to help the team in any capacity that he can.

“They wanted to keep me around and be as involved as I can,” Dupuis said. “It means a lot to me. It shows how this team, staff, organization is behind the players.”

Lowell MacDonald (1973) and Mario Lemieux (1993) are the only Pens to win the Masterton Trophy. Dupuis’ teammate Letang was a finalist for the award last season.

The other two finalists are Florida’s Jaromir Jagr and New York’s Mats Zuccarello.

THIS ‘N AT
*Bonino on his pass to set up Carl Hagelin’s goal: “He was in a real good position as the supporting man. I saw him before I went around the net. I hoped he’d continue his route where he went. He put a good stick on it and put it in a pretty good place.”

*Goalie Matt Murray on bouncing back in Game 2 after first playoff loss: “I like to bounce back from any loss, whether it’s playoffs or not. It’s a good feeling. I thought I was average at best last game. I definitely wanted a stronger showing (Saturday).”

*Eric Fehr on getting the game-winner against this former team: “It feels great. We didn’t want to go back (to Pittsburgh) down 2-0. To be able to help out with that cause offensively feels really good.”

*More Fehr on his goal: “I re-directed it toward the net. Did I mean to go high glove, post and in? Probably not. I was trying to put it on net and it worked out very well.”

*Evgeni Malkin on setting up Fehr’s winner: “Me and (Chris Kunitz) played in the corner and Fehr stayed in front. He went to the net. He’s a big guy. I saw his stick. I tried shooting hard at his stick. I think it was a little lucky because it was off of the post, but it was a good goal.”

*Crosby on splitting on the road: “We wanted to go back with at least one. We played well the last couple of games. We deserved to at least get a split.”

*Crosby on playing hockey and not getting caught in physical scrums: “The ultimate goal is to win. We all have that in mind. We know that taking that hit or punch is going to go a long way. … We’re a skilled and fast team. A lot of teams try to slow us down and try to be extra physical against us. We know that if we get sucked into that we’re getting away from our game, and we’re not productive that way. It’s pretty clear that if we get caught up in that we put ourselves in a bad position.”
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