6:37 p.m.: It’s #1 vs #1. Casey DeSmith in net for the Penguins. Keith Kincaid is in net for the Devils. DeSmith is 3-3-0, with a .926 save percentage and 2.23 GAA. Kincaid has posted a 14-8-2 record with a 3.03 GAA and .900 save percentage.
The Penguins forward lines are set:
And, in case you missed it: Marc-Andre Fleury, Canadian Curling, 2022:
— Brett Bennett (@_1bcb) February 27, 2018
6:00 p.m.: Olli Maatta concussed Matt Murray in practice, yesterday. Maatta took a slapshot below the dot, which caught Murray in the mask. Oops.
Casey DeSmith will start tonight. Tristan Jarry will serve as the backup.
The Penguins six-game winning streak was ended by Florida, Saturday. The Penguins are 7-2-1 in their last 10 games, and 17-5-1 since January 1; the Penguins have scored five or more goals 12 times in those 23 games.
Philadelphia is 9-0-1 in their last 10 games and have vaulted past the Penguins, into first place in the Metro Division.
Today is Mike Sullivan’s 50th birthday.
Kris Letang’s next assist will give him first place, all-time, among Penguins defensemen. He is currently tied with Paul Coffee with 332 career assists, as a Penguin.
Evgeni Malkin has closed to within six points of NHL scoring leader, Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov. You can read Dan Kingerski’s post-deadline analysis here. Dan likes the collision course the Penguins and Lightning are following.
11:45 a.m.: After taking part in an optional morning skate, new Penguins center Derick Brassard spoke with reporters. He said he expects to play with Phil Kessel and Conor Sheary tonight against New Jersey. Here are the highlights:
“I’m really excited to be here. It’s a really good opportunity for me to be here, play on a good team, won the last two Stanley Cups. I’m just going to try to be myself, not change anything, just play my game, just try to help them win some games.”
(Were you going crazy hanging out in Toronto, waiting for immigration clearance?) “Yeah, especially when my flight was delayed for two hours yesterday. I skated yesterday. I met with our strength coach in Toronto and had a good workout. Came in late a little bit last night, but finally glad to be here. I still can’t really believe that I’m here right now.
“I’ve faced this team four straight years in the playoffs. I know they like to play a high-paced game and they have a lot of skill, puck possession. They want to make plays. That fits my game. … It’s going to be good to be on this side.
“Even if it’s my 10th year in the league, I showed up this morning and I was a little bit nervous, but it’s all good stuff. It’s like a little kid since I heard about the trade, to have the chance to play with some great players.”
11:30 a.m.: Most of what Patric Hornqvist had to say about his five-year contract extension:
“It feels great. This is the city I want to be in, and I’m really happy to stay here for five more years. We always have a chance to win. We have a great core group in here. That was obviously the key situation for me. I want to win, and I think we have a great chance here.
(Any thought of going to free agency?) “Not really. Everything worked out really well. I think both sides are happy. Now the fun starts. For me, it was not hard. It was always in my mind, my family, we all want to stay here. I think we have a great chance to win here every single year. That’s what it’s all about. I’m so glad this is over with now so we can start playing and I can start playing and not focus on that.
“When (GM Jim Rutherford) called me around Christmas and said he wanted to start talking, then obviously you know the ball is rolling. It went quick. … We wanted those five years, and we got it. I’m happy about that. I’m going to be trying my best for five years.”
(With his physical style, is five years daunting?) “No. I’ve been playing in this league for 10 years and I feel great. I’m blessed to have the opportunity to play for five more years.”
(Rutherford broke protocol by doing an in-season deal.) “That makes me want to stay even more. That says what this organization is all about. They want to win, and they take care of their players really well. I’m glad to be here.”
(Was most of the core group being tied up for years a factor?) “For sure. You’ve got Geno, Sid, Phil and Tanger signed for a long time. Even Dumo and Olli. I think we have something great here. We just have to go out there and prove it.”
11:05 a.m.: Here’s most of what Mike Sullivan had to say:
“Matt was diagnosed with a concussion. He got hit with a puck in practice. We believe in the guys we have. Both Casey and Tristan are good goalies. They’ve played extremely well for us. They’ve helped us win games when they’ve been in the lineup. We’ve had some experience with some inexperienced guys.”
“We’re thrilled to get (Hornqvist) under contract and sign him. We’re thrilled for Patric. I think he’s deserving of the contract. He’s such a big part of this team and what it’s been able to accomplish over the last couple of seasons. It’s obvious what he brings to our team, both on the ice and off the ice. He brings so much energy. He’s a positive guy. He really brings a dimension to our dressing room that I really think is unique. Everyone that’s part of our dressing room is appreciative of what Patric brings. There’s no one more deserving of the contract that he signed, and we’re thrilled to have him.”
“(Brassard) brings that element to our team that maybe we didn’t have before. We’re not going to convolute his mindset with too much information. We’ll give Derick what he needs. We’ll give him the basic framework. We just want him to go out and play and act on his instincts and trust his instincts. We’ll build on that in time.”
11 a.m.: Casey DeSmith was the first goaltender off the ice at the Penguins morning skate and was not available for interviews. Look for him to start tonight against New Jersey.
10:40 a.m.: Sullivan confirmed that Derick Brassard will make his Penguins debut tonight against New Jersey. Sullivan said they won’t overload Brassard with Xs and Os but will give him some basic instruction and ask him to rely on his instincts and just go play. Will integrate him further as time goes on.
10:35 a.m.: Yikes. As perhaps feared, goalie Matt Murray has a concussion. As we all have learned over the years, there is no predictable timetable with that type of injury. Sullivan said the team has confidence in rookie goalies Jarry and DeSmith, but the playoffs are just over a month away…
10:25 a.m.: The two goalies on the ice before the start of the morning skate at Tristan Jarry and Casey DeSmith, per the team. Jarry’s move to WBS Monday was, as suspected, a paper move. The bigger concern is with Matt Murray, who left Monday’s practice early after taking a high shot. Again, more details could be imminent when Sullivan meets with reporters.
10:15 a.m.: Penguins, on Twitter, make the Patric Hornqvist extension official. Five years. $5.3 million salary cap hit. Coach Mike Sullivan will be speaking to reporters at PPG Paints Arena shortly.
Here’s Matt Gajtka‘s column on why extending Hornqvist was the right move.