PITTSBURGH — Latvian native Teddy Blueger may make his NHL debut. If not tonight, soon. The Pittsburgh Penguins recalled Blueger yesterday. He was recalled last season but did not play a game over two weeks before being returned to the WBS Penguins.
There are some in the organization who are excited about Blueger’s presence.
Blueger, 24, already equaled his career high with 21 goals in the AHL this season. Blueger talked about his offensive output.
“I think (my offense) has kind progressed over the years. When I first got there, I was put in a defensive role and told that defense is my primary responsibility,” said Blueger. “As time went on, I showed I could produce more and was given more freedom on offense. A lot of it had to do with confidence and my mindset.”
Blueger was the Penguins second-round choice from Minnesota State-Mankato in 2012. The speedy winger was one of the last training camp cuts this season though his speed and tenacity could show well in a bottom-six role.
“Believing in myself and realizing I had more and more to give. And expecting more out of myself. The more you score, the more confident you get, the better you feel about yourself, the more belief you have.”
If you give a mouse a cookie… Or in this case, if you give a player a goal…
However, Mike Sullivan was non-committal about inserting Blueger into the lineup right away.
“As I always say, we’re going to make lineup decisions on a nightly basis based on who we have available or where people are at,” said Sullivan. “Teddy is a guy who has played extremely well in Wilkes Barre this year, on both sides of the puck.”
Though Sullivan called Blueger “a good two-way centerman who is a good penalty killer.”
It sounds like the Penguins may use Blueger, but we won’t know until game time.
The Penguins appear one step closer to getting defenseman Justin Schultz back in the lineup. Schultz joined the Penguins morning skate in a non-contact jersey. It was the first time since Schultz suffered a leg fracture on Oct. 13.
“It’s a big step,” said head coach Mike Sullivan. “That’s a really big step for him. It suggests he’s a whole lot closer and the next step will be the contact part of the practices.”
Schultz would stabilize a Penguins defense which has been adequate though patchwork since Schultz injury. The original return date was set for Feb. 10.
Brassard / Maatta
It’s probably nothing. Probably. However, typical morning skate participants Olli Maatta and Derick Brassard were not on the ice this morning.
“Everyone is available tonight,” Mike Sullivan answered bluntly to quell any more wondering. It didn’t entirely work, but for now, Brassard and Maatta are available tonight.