11:40 a.m: Penguins coach Mike Sullivan did not have a lot of news to offer in his morning wrapup with reporters. He did say that center Derick Brassard, who did not skate this morning, remains day to day. In something of a surprise, Matt Murray was the first goaltender off the ice and would be expected to start tonight against Montreal. We kind of thought the Penguins would go with backup Casey DeSmith and save Murray for Sunday night against Washington. See, this is why we don’t bet.
11:30 a.m.: It sure looks as if defenseman Matt Hunwick will play a second game in a row tonight when the Penguins host Montreal. He was on the ice at the morning skate an extra amount of time — almost as long as Chad Ruhwedel, whom he replaced in the lineup Thursday after a stretch of being a healthy scratch.
“I’d like to be a lot better, to be honest with you,” he said after today’s skate. “I didn’t think I was very good last game against the Devils. It would be nice to have another crack at it tonight.”
Asked if rust (inactivity, not Bryan) was an issue, he said, “Maybe. I’m not going to make excuses. I just didn’t think I was as sharp as I should have been. Hopefully, I’ll get better.
Hunwick indicated, however, that rust might be involved when he was asked about staying on the ice an extra amount of time this morning. The Penguins have had some days off recently.
“Yeah, I skated a little longer,” he said. “I didn’t skate Sunday. I didn’t skate Wednesday. I didn’t skate Friday. You’ve got to skate at some point, touch the puck a little bit, just get more comfortable.”
10:40 a.m.: Injured forwards Brassard and Carter Rowney are not participating in the Penguins morning skate, although apparently Rowney skated earlier. So don’t count on them to be available tonight against Montreal.
10:20 a.m.: You know the Canadiens are in town when French is flowing freely in the area where reporters watch the morning skates. The Penguins, via Twitter, report this interesting clinching scenario: The Penguins will clinch a playoff berth if they defeat the Canadiens in any fashion AND the Panthers lose to the Bruins in regulation.
10:10 a.m.: All quiet at PPG Paints Arena at the moment. After a day off Friday, we would expect a full Penguins morning skate at the bottom of the hour.
8:15 a.m.: The Pittsburgh Penguins host the Montreal Canadiens tonight and the Washington Capitals, Sunday. After an upbeat performance against the New Jersey Devils Thursday, the Penguins desperately need to string together a few solid performances heading into the playoffs. That is more true of the Penguins defensive zone coverage.
Also, will veteran defenseman Hunwick get another chance to earn a sweater for the playoffs after a down performance Thursday? PHN’s Shelly Anderson is covering the morning skate. She’ll have the answer…and probably some great stuff from the locker room.
–The New York Islanders and Josh Ho-Sang are reaching a breaking point. Thursday, Ho-Sang vented his frustration at not getting a late-season recall to the NHL. He not only vented frustration but called into question other players and the Islanders preferential treatment of those players.
Islanders head coach Doug Weight responded later Friday. Sportsnet has a great write-up of the situation.
Snark: Fast forward 12 months and you may insert Daniel Sprong’s name into the story–Dan Kingerski
–The Florida Panthers are three points behind the New Jersey Devils for the last wild-card spot. The Panthers have one game in hand but their remaining schedule is more reminiscent of Dante’s Inferno. Six games in nine days. They’ll face the Bruins three times, the Nashville Predators once.
Panthers coach Bob Boughner deserves Jack Adams consideration if Florida pulls it out.
“Right now, there’s no playbook for this,” Boughner told NHL.com. “It’s just instinct and scraping points every night.”
The Panthers face the Bruins today at 1 p.m., and fans can watch it for free on NHL.com.
–Personal note: It is great to see Malcolm Subban succeeding in the NHL. Anyone who met the family, including older brother P.K., when Malcolm was drafted in Pittsburgh (2012) can’t help but root for the kid, and the family. —Dan Kingerski
Subban stopped 21 shots against the Blues, last night. It was his 12th win of the season.