Tight division: 3 points separate four teams in the Atlantic. Don’t look now but the New York Rangers have won 5 of their past 6 games and have inched back to the top of the shuffle to make this possible. Which puts even more weight on tonight’s game with the Devils. The Penguins are going to have to do the same thing they did last week to be successful: stay out of the penalty box, hope for a burst of production to break the Devils spirit by taking a 2 or 3 goal lead and then play a suffocating brand of defense to close the game out.
Roster shuffles: Alain Nasreddine was sent re-assigned to Wilkes-Barre, no surprise since the forwards are slowly becoming healthy and Brooks Orpik can rightfully shift back to defense. Jonathan Filewich and Ryan Stone also traded places. Disappointing and it remains unsure of what exactly Stone is going to bring to the table that Filewich hasn’t. Filewich looked the best out of all the recent callups (other than maybe Nathan Smith) so it’s hard to understand the motives on this decision. Are the Pens showcasing guys like Stone and Filewich, giving each a shot at a couple NHL games to dangle them as bait for the trade deadline? Stay tuned.
Fitting the pieces of the puzzle: It’s still unknown if Adam Hall (groin) will be ready to go tonight or if the coaches are comfortable enough with Kris Beech’s conditioning and game to have either in the lineup tonight. It’s been reported that Beech is very unlikely to play tonight, while Stone’s call up seems to indicate Hall will be out too. No point of summoning Stone to sit him, we suppose. Here’s how we’d set the lines for tonight:
Hardly a fierce lineup to be sure, but it’s one that should be hard-working and hard-nosed enough not to let up anything easy. Which is what you’re looking for with so many regulars out.