Key Observations Heading Into Game 34 Between the Lightning and Penguins

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By Annie Shean (@JustPuckIt)

Last night the Penguins were able to rally back from a 3-1 lead to tie the game, but eventually lost in a seven-round shootout to the Panthers. They were able to walk away with a point, but also with a more depleted lineup. Tonight is part two of the back-to-back game trip to sunny Florida, where the Pens will take on the Tampa Bay Lightning. The first meeting verses the lightning ended with a 4-2 win last week, but don’t expect this top-ranked Atlantic division team to check out early for Festivus dinner.

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Speaking of, who’s Invited to Festivus Dinner?

For the Lightning it appears that Defenseman Jason Garrison will continue to be out of the lineup. After sustaining an injury against the Islanders Saturday night, he is listed as day-to-day with an undisclosed injury. In goal there was some question yesterday as to whether or not Ben Bishop would return to the lineup after Coach John Cooper said yesterday, “He, by his own account, is not 100 percent.” During morning skate it appeared as if young 2012 draft pick Andrei Vasilevskiy will start, and veteran Nabokov will be the backup. 

As for the Penguins, well where do we begin? Thankfully after taking a ‘late’ hit last night, forward Bobby Farhnam was cleared to play and will be in the lineup tonight. The status of Blake Comeau however is unknown. During the third period he sustained what appeared to be a wrist injury when he was tripped and went full force into the boards last night. He immediately left the ice and went down the runway, and so far there have been no updates on his injury timetable.  Late this afternoon the Pens announced that they have recalled forward Dominic Uher, who is expected to replace #17 and make his NHL debut. The status of Greiss, Sutter, and Downie’s tests for the Mumps have yet to be revealed, so they will most certainly remain out of the lineup until at minimum Saturday night.

UPDATE: Comeau has been placed on Injured Reserve, which means he cannot rejoin the team for a minimum of seven days.

 

Someone should stand outside Amalie Arena tonight with this sign

Someone should stand outside Amalie Arena tonight with this sign

 

The Airing of Grievances:

Someone started the Airing of Grievances last night in the locker room:

Can you blame the players for being frustrated at this point? Actually we should be asking why they didn’t make this comment earlier! Blood Clots, Mumps, an IR list longer than a festivus pole? Talk about something more distracting than tinsel!

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“I got a lot of problems with the way you ref the game,
and now you’re gonna hear about it!”

Feats of Strength
Somehow the Penguins have found a way to push through all of the man-games lost with some help from our boys down in WBS. If this isn’t a feat of Stregth, I don’t know what is! Credit deserves to be given to our core of mature defenseman Dumoulin, Pouliot, and Harrington who have eagerly embraced their opportunity to play in the NHL. While our forward depth isn’t as deep as we’d like Rust, Farhnam, and Ebbett have been relatively strong playmakers as well. I’m all for having a healthy roster, but at least we are getting a glimpse of our young talent. (Don’t hurt me, just trying to be positive!)

Fresh young legs are nice, however the team as a whole looked very exhausted at times on the ice. They have a depleted lineup, are experiencing mental exhaustion (see Meesh’s post game thoughts on mistakes), and have played three games in the past four days. Rest is exactly what this team needs, which is why Head Coach Mike Johnson cancelled the morning skate in Tampa. Hopefully with some additional time to sleep and take some ice bath’s, the Penguins will be able to find the energy to plow through one more game — otherwise things could get quite ugly out there.

 

We need a Festivus Miracle!
The Penguins are sitting comfortably on the top of the Eastern Conference with 49 points; while a win tonight is not essential, it would be great to go into the holiday break on a high note. I think we can all agree that our ‘Festivus Miracle’ would be for the lineup to come out unscathed at the end of the night. Seriously, that’s all we are asking for.
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(Don’t get the Festivus jokes? Watch This)