3 p.m.: In an interesting development, the Penguins sent goaltender Tristan Jarry back to AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Obviously, the team feels pretty strongly about Matt Murray being ready to return from a concussion. It also means that, for now, Casey DeSmith has moved into the top backup role.
2 p.m.: Several things to update out of the Penguins locker room post-practice as the team got ready to fly to New York, where there is a game Tuesday against the Islanders in Brooklyn.
Although goaltender Matt Murray didn’t speak with reporters, coach Mike Sullivan said Murray was an option for Tuesday night. When the injury is a concussion, there is always an allowance for a return of symptoms, but all the signs are good.
The Penguins now have eight games in 13 days, so having four days without a game provided a respite.
“It’s always nice to get some down time, some time away from the game, from the rink, recharge the batteries,” defenseman Justin Schultz said. “We’ve got a big stretch run coming. It was nice. Everyone is refreshed and ready to go.”
The four days were hardly monotonous. The team had a day off Friday, held a skills-heavy practice Saturday, an off-ice workout at PPG Paints Arena on Sunday and a fairly crisp standard practice today. The players even got to watch some of the NCAA tournament basketball Saturday at the arena and, on Sunday, did some shooting around themselves on the same floor.
“We did some skill stuff, then a good workout, and today a pretty high-tempo practice,” captain Sidney Crosby said. “It’s pretty rare to get that many days, especially this time of year. I think it was good for us. Hopefully, we’re energized for the last stretch.”
11:10 a.m.: Bryan Rust is practicing on the top line, with Conor Sheary on the third line. The full combos:
10:45 a.m.: Murray is back on the ice warming up before the start of the 11 a.m. practice in Cranberry. That bodes well for a return soon, maybe in the next two nights. The team plays on the road against the Islanders Tuesday and has a home game against Montreal on Wednesday. For now, all three goalies are practicing. That includes backups Jarry and DeSmith.
7:00 a.m.: General Managers, meeting this week in Boca Raton Florida, will be discussing several weighty issues, most notably the controversial review process for goalie interference.
Per published reports, GM’s plan to discuss the review process and hope to learn more about the standards used to make the calls.
GM’s will also discuss expanding the playoffs in accordance with the league’s impending expansion to 32 teams, one-minute power plays in overtime and exploitations of LTIR rules. The Toronto Maple Leafs handling of Joffrey Lupul and Nikita Soshnikov have been under scrutiny, especially after Soshnikov was dominant in an AHL conditioning stint but not activated by the Maple Leafs, which eventually dealt him to St. Louis.
–Have you seen Marc-Andre Fleury‘s backward skate save? You should. Fleury posted a 42 saves shutout of the Calgary Flames, Sunday:
#Art Ross Watch
Nikita Kucherov scored a pair of goals (35, 36) and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Edmonton Oilers 3-1. Kucherov now leads Evgeni Malkin, Nathon MacKinnon, and Connor McDavid by four points, 93-89.
If you haven’t, read Jake Holmes breakdown of the Tampa Bay Lightning strengths and weaknesses. It’s a must-read for smart hockey fans. There are some really good nuggets in there.
Pittsburgh Hockey Now asked Murray how he feels about the “injury prone label.” Shelly Anderson did great work Saturday. We made the feature available EXCLUSIVELY to our members. Subscribe and read Matt’s responses here
Just one quote from Murray: “You can wear whatever you want on your head – you can wrap your head in bubble wrap – and sometimes it’s out of your control.”