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The Inside Scoop: Maatta Week-to-Week with Lower-Body Injury

by CJ Harvey / Pittsburgh Penguins
Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan announced Friday that Olli Maatta will be out week-to-week with a lower-body injury. He noted that the injury occurred Thursday night in Pittsburgh’s 3-0 loss to New Jersey.


Sullivan said he was exploring alternative defensive pairs with Maatta’s absence. Here were the defensive pairs at Friday’s afternoon practice at CONSOL Energy Center:

Daley-Letang
Lovejoy-Dumoulin
Schultz-Cole-Pouliot

“We have some ideas of how we’re going to use people,” Sullivan said. “Olli is a good player and I think he’s built good chemistry with ‘Tanger.’ He’s going to be missed.

“Having said that, it’s a great opportunity for other guys to step in, fill the void and help this team win. We’ve got depth on defense and have capable players we can move into the lineup.”

Forward Beau Bennett returned to the ice against the Devils after missing 42 of the last 43 games with an upper-body injury, and picked up 5:30 minutes of playing time.

Today, he skated along side Conor Sheary and Eric Fehr on the fourth line, and is expected to continue logging additional minutes.

Here are the forward line combinations from today’s practice:

Kunitz-Crosby-Hornqvist
Hagelin-Bonino-Kessel
Kuhnhackl-Cullen-Rust
Sheary-Fehr-Bennett

STAY THE COURSE
Pittsburgh’s 3-0 loss to the Devils stung everyone in the team’s locker room. The Penguins’ 6-game winning streak was bound to end, but they weren’t happy Thursday’s outcome.

Some teams would throw out the tape and not look back, which is what Pittsburgh is doing, kind of. Chris Kunitz said you’re a fool if you don’t take a lesson from every game, even when you leave a goose egg hanging on the scoreboard.

“You better get into the habit of learning what happened and why it happened,” Kunitz said. “If we come in lightly, teams are going to give it to us. Their goaltender (Scott Wedgewood) was good, but we have to elevate our game every single night, whoever the opponent.”

Carl Hagelin preached a similar message about the mentality in the locker room and how they keep focused on their next matchup with Detroit.

“It’s just one of the things you learn when you’re in the league for a while,” Hagelin said. “You can’t be too high and you can’t get too low. You just have to keep your mind on what’s next. We have to bring a high level of intensity from the get go. We need better starts. If we can do that we’ll have a strong chance going forward.”

PLAYOFF PUSH
The Penguins are currently third in the Metropolitan Division standings, behind the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers. Of Pittsburgh’s last 9 regular-season meetings, 5 are against Metro teams, meaning their playoff future sits in their own hands.  

Pittsburgh’s next stop is a Saturday afternoon showdown in Detroit, which sits only three points behind the Penguins and are desperate for points. But captain Sidney Crosby is looking at Saturday’s game as a must win for the black and gold.

“Every game is it’s own story,” Crosby said. “But we know going into tomorrow that it’s our biggest game of the year.”
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