Pre-Game Notes: Pens vs Blackhawks

Tonight, the Pens will take on the first place Blackhawks for the first and only time since the pre-season. With the Pens being depleted defensively due to injury, Head Coach Dan Bylsma gave some updates at practice  today and yesterday on how the blue-liners (and others) are doing on their road to recovery.

Zbynek Michalek:
Z has missed 9 games with a mild concussion. He had hoped to play over the weekend in either Ottawa or back in Pittsburgh on Saturday, but remained sidelined due to some headaches. He says he isn’t going to hurry back and will take as much time as he needs to return to the line-up. He is cleared for full contact practice though.

Ben Lovejoy:
Rev is practicing with the team again and has been cleared for full contact practice. He has been out with a broken wrist.

Craig Adams:
Adams left the Pens game on Saturday with a lower body injury and did not return. He was listed as day-to-day. He practiced today and will be a game time decision. He stated at practice today that he feels like he could play tonight, but will have to speak with HC Dan Bylsma and trainer Chris Stewart for a final decision.

Jordan Staal:
J. Staal has been out with a lower body injury. He stated at today’s practice “Yeah, today was a really good day. Everything felt really good. I should be in tonight if coach wants it. (Smiles) We’ll see if I get in.” That sounds encouraging.

Eric Tangradi, Alexandre Picard and Simon Despres are still in Pittsburgh with the team and all attended today’s optional skate at Consol Energy Center.

Ray Emery will be in net for the Blackhawks tonight. Emery is 9-1-2 this season.

Brent Seabrook will be playing blue line for the BHawks tonight. He was involved in a major incident with Rene Bourque on Saturday against the Flames when Bourque put him head first into the boards. Seabrook has already sustained several concussions in the past, but he said he is fine and ready to play. Bourque was suspended for two games for the hit.

Daniel Carcillo did not travel to Pittsburgh. He has an upper body injury.

The Pens will need to stay strong on their defense with so many top scorers on the BHawks. James Neal and Captain Jonathan Toews each have 18 goals this season. Neal has points in each of the Pens last 5 games. Patrick Sharp isn’t far behind with 17 and a quite impressive +/- of 16 while Toews is at 12. Former Penguin Marian Hossa and Evgeni Malkin are dead even this season with 15 goals and 21 assists each.

Maintaining puck control like they did on Saturday is key, mimimizing the Blackhawks opportunities in the Pens zone. Emery is having a great season so they need to make sure they are aren’t wasting shots.

Hopefully Adams is in tonight. We need him on the penalty kill.

Game is on Versus tonight. Just put on Mike Lange and spare yourself the train wreck.

Let’s Go Pens!

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