RALEIGH, N.C. — Defenseman P.O Joseph, who was considered a healthy scratch for the Pittsburgh Penguins’ past five games, will sit again when they take on Carolina tonight at 7:08 at PNC Arena.
But it won’t be because of a coaching decision.
Coach Mike Sullivan said today that his plan had been to put Joseph in the lineup this evening, but that Joseph has been nursing an unspecified lower-body injury and did not believe he was ready to perform at the level necessary.
“He’s been dealing with a lower-body injury here for a bit,” Sullivan said. “He doesn’t feel comfortable at this point, going in the lineup and being effective. I know there’s been a little bit of an assumption, most recently, that he’s been a healthy scratch. It hasn’t really been the case. He’s been dealing with this here, for a little bit. We’re trying to help him get over the hump so that when he does go in the lineup, he has the opportunity to be effective.”
Joseph has one assist in five games this season.
Jarry gets the start
Tristan Jarry will be in goal against Carolina.
That means Magnus Hellberg figures to get the start when the Penguins return home to take on Vegas Sunday at 6:08 p.m., although Sullivan declined to confirm that.
“We’re focused on Carolina,” he said.
It will be the fourth consecutive start for Jarry, who has a career record of 1-3-2, with a goals-against average of 3.52 and a .903 save percentage against Carolina.
The Pittsburgh Penguins and Hurricanes played four times last season.
Carolina won all of them, and did it by one goal each time, including twice when the game stretched into overtime.
“Every loss was different, but for sure, we have a little chip on our shoulder against these guys,” defenseman Marcus Pettersson said. “They’re a tough team to beat. They work hard. We’re coming into this with a little bit extra … especially coming off a loss against a divisional opponent (New Jersey). I think energy is going to be really key.”
It usually is against the Hurricanes, who can play a relentless style.
“We would expect the game that we always get from them,” Sullivan said. “It’s usually a team that brings a lot of pressure. They’re as hard a man-on-man team as there is in the league. They’re as aggressive with their defenseman pinching on the (boards) as there is in the league. It’s a hard game to play against, and that’s what we expect it to be tonight.”
It’s Their Option
Although the Penguins had an unscheduled day off Friday, their game-day skate still was, as usual, optional.
Sixteen skaters and both goaltenders participated.
Those who declined to skate: Sidney Crosby, Lars Eller, Erik Karlsson and Jake Guentzel.
“The reason it’s an optional skate is we’re in the middle of playing four games in six days,” Sullivan said.
The Pittsburgh Penguins aren’t the only team that got off to a disappointing start this season.
Carolina, a popular preseason pick to contend for the Stanley Cup, is just 9-7 going into its game against the Penguins.
Hurricanes captain Jordan Staal, who broke into the NHL with the Penguins in 2006 and won a Stanley Cup with them in 2009, said there is an obvious explanation for his team’s lackluster start.
“It’s been our (lack of) consistency,” he said. “We’ve played some really, really good games, and then we’ve just kind of gone off the rails on the way we want to play. There has to be a little more consistency with how we do things and buying into and believing that the way we play is the winning recipe. … Our special teams kind of struggled a little at the start, especially the (penalty-kill), so we had a couple of losses for that.”