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Penguins Practice: Joseph Remains in Lineup, Pens May Catch a Break

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Pittsburgh Penguins, P.O. Joseph

CRANBERRY — The Pittsburgh Penguins did not get the best that P.O Joseph has to offer during their season-opening 6-2 victory against Arizona Thursday.

Even so, he apparently will hold onto his spot on the No. 3 defense pairing when Tampa Bay visits PPG Paints Arena Saturday at 7:08 p.m.

The Penguins, who made it through the Coyotes game without any significant injuries, stuck with the same personnel combinations they used against Arizona while practicing Friday at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex. Those included:

Jake Guentzel — Sidney Crosby — Rickard Rakell
Jason Zucker — Evgeni Malkin — Bryan Rust
Danton Heinen — Jeff Carter — Kasperi Kapanen
Brock McGinn — Ryan Poehling — Josh Archibald

Brian Dumoulin — Kris Letang
Marcus Pettersson — Jeff Petry
P.O Joseph — Jan Rutta
(Chad Ruhwedel was the No. 7 defenseman, and had injured center Teddy Blueger as a partner in some drills.)

No. 1 power play — Crosby, Malkin, Letang, Guentzel, Rust
No. 2 power play — Petry, Carter, Zucker, Heinen, Kapanen

Ty Smith worked on Rutta’s left side for most of the preseason, but was sent to the Pittsburgh Penguins’ farm team in Wilkes-Barre Sunday because of salary-cap considerations.

Jospeh was plugged into that spot — Ruhwedel was the other candidate to fill it — and received generally lackluster reviews for his play Thursday.

That he will stay in the lineup isn’t necessarily a surprise, however. One game isn’t much of an audition for a defenseman adapting to a new partner, especially when that game was a four-goal victory.

Lightning still striking

The Penguins should have a pretty good idea of what to expect from Tampa Bay when they face the Lightning Saturday.

After all, Tampa Bay has reached the Stanley Cup final in three consecutive years — and earned a pair of championships in the process — so it hasn’t exactly been operating under the radar.

If, however, Mike Sullivan and his staff are seeking any additional nuggets of knowledge about the Lightning, Rutta might be able to provide them.

He spent four seasons in Tampa before joining the Penguins as a free agent this summer, so he has some pretty good insights on that club.

“It was a good three or four years there,” he said. “A lot of friends.”

And a lot of professional respect for them, and the way that team continues to compete.

“We were two games away from a three-peat (this spring), and we lost two overtime games,” he said. “It could have swung both ways. I think the fire definitely was there.”

Still, despite the ties to some former teammates, Rutta said he doesn’t expect to pay much attention to the Lightning as the season progresses.

“To be honest, I don’t really care,” he said. “I’ll follow a little bit.”

And he isn’t upset that he’ll be facing his former club in the second game of the season.

“Maybe it’s good that it’s early in the season,” he said. “Just get it out of the way.”

Penguins catching a break?

Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Lightning is one of the NHL’s premier goaltenders, but it looks as if the Pittsburgh Penguins won’t have to contend with him Saturday.

Tampa Bay plays in Columbus Friday night, and Vasilevskiy is scheduled to be in goal against the Blue Jackets.

Because the Lightning have games on consecutive days, the Penguins are expected to face backup goalie Brian Elliott.

No contact for Blueger

Blueger’s regimen — on-ice workout with Ty Hennes before practice, then take part in the practice while wearing a no-contact jersey — remains unchanged, and there has been no projection of when he might rejoin the lineup.

He was the only player to sit out the opener against the Coyotes because of an injury.

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Jeff Young
Jeff Young
1 month ago

I’d rather play against Vasilevskiy to see how the team stacks up against other team’s top players. Yeah, it should be a “break” since it *is* Brian Elliott (!)… but I’d like to see how we’d fare against AV… especially this early in the season.

That said, maybe AV will play both games since it’s Columbus (I was at their game in Raleigh… ugh.)

Kris
Kris
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeff Young

Man where is Grant Fuhr when you need him. Goalie needs a break 2 games into the season. Jesus that is weak.

Rob
Rob
1 month ago
Reply to  Kris

I wouldn’t say that he NEEDS a break. Under most normal circumstances, the backup goalie ONLY plays when there are games on back to back nights. Its about managing the workload of the coveted starter and maximizing the payroll. I expect tampa to play Vas, given Elliots poor history against the pens

bigredbaer
bigredbaer
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeff Young

I agree with you. Hopefully TB will do what the Pens tend to do with goalie 2 is in, and play more structured hockey, and it’ll give us a good look. I feel like the Pens always play a more structured game when they don’t expect goalie 1 to bail them out!

Kris
Kris
1 month ago

Oh and by the way, Joseph looked awful. Pinched once that led to Carter having to take a penalty; that the Yotes then scored 1st goal. Every time the puck was on his stick, he couldn’t get it off quick enough. Dude was playing scared. Time to cut bait and get the other kid up here. He won the role and deserves to be playing.

Biggus Dickus
Biggus Dickus
1 month ago
Reply to  Kris

POJ is just a bust. Please trade that weak link

John F McCaffrey
John F McCaffrey
1 month ago
Reply to  Kris

I agree, POJ seemed tentative and didn’t play with confidence. Hopefully, he’ll improve.

Zane Gearhart
Zane Gearhart
1 month ago

Rakell isn’t on either powerplay?

John F McCaffrey
John F McCaffrey
1 month ago
Reply to  Zane Gearhart

That was my question as well, Zane!

Alan Smith
1 month ago

Tampa won Covid Cups! Not real Cups!