Penguins Notebook: Therrien 'knights' this month's alternate captains

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ST. LOUIS -- It's a new month. That means new Penguins' alternate captains.

Penguins coach Michel Therrien found a humorous way to designate them at the morning skate at Scottrade Center.

With the players gathered around, Therrien "knighted" defensemen Rob Scuderi and Hal Gill with his stick, prompting a round of laughs from the players.

Therrien decided this season to rotate his two alternate captains by month. Sidney Crosby is in his second season as captain.

Defenseman Brooks Orpik and center Evgeni Malkin served for October.

He's back

Janne Pesonen traveled to Sweden with the Penguins but was cut before the team opened with two games against Ottawa as part of NHL Premiere.

The team asked the Finnish winger, who signed as a free agent last summer, to open the season with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and learn a little more about North American hockey.

"Maybe the first two games was a little bit adjusting to the style, but after that I started to feel better and better," said Pesonen, who was rewarded for a strong start with the Baby Penguins with a promotion for last night's game against the Blues.

"I liked it a lot," he said. "I got a lot of ice time. I knew most of the guys from the training camp, and that made it easier."

Playing primarily with center Jeff Taffe and Chris Minard -- who this week also was promoted to the NHL roster -- Pesonen ranked third on the Wilkes-Barre team with nine points, including two goals. He led the team with a plus-minus rating of plus-nine.

"He was one of the best players there, him and Minard," Therrien said.

Pesonen began the game last night playing on a line with Malkin.

Let's just play

With the Eastern and Western conference teams not meeting often, teams sometimes have to take a crash course on opponents.

St. Louis coach Andy Murray doesn't.

He figures when you're facing a team for the only time in a season -- as the Blues and Penguins were last night -- it's better to just go out and play.

"It's neat to play the teams in the East, but you don't follow them near as well as the teams in the West," Murray said. "We didn't talk about Pittsburgh at all. We talked about what we needed to do."

In fact, on the dry-erase board in the Blues locker room after the morning skate, the prospective Penguins' line combinations for players to study were outdated. The top line had wingers Pascal Dupuis and Malkin with Crosby.

Crosby and Malkin were split earlier in the week, and Dupuis was set to miss his second consecutive game with an injury.

"We didn't talk about Malkin. We didn't talk about Crosby," Murray said. "We could scare them by showing some clips on them, but we just talked about our team."

Player's call

Therrien said he had no idea when he arrived at the arena for the morning skate whether Crosby would be able to play after he left the previous game in the third period with a hip injury.

But Crosby was able to participate in the practice and declared himself ready.

"In situations like this, it's the player's judgment," Therrien said. "They won't get pushed by anyone. We trust their judgment."


Shelly Anderson can be reached at shanderson@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1721.


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