Penguins Notebook: Leopold starts out with Goligoski


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Jordan Leopold had what he called a "crash course" in Penguins hockey when he arrived at Mellon Arena Tuesday morning.

"A lot of video this morning," the defenseman said after his first morning skate with his new club. "I haven't met everybody, but most of the guys."

Leopold was acquired Monday from Florida for a 2010 second-round draft pick. He played on the right side in a pairing with Alex Goligoski Tuesday night against Buffalo.

"In the next three, four, five, up to 10 games, you may see different ways that Jordan is used," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. "He's most comfortable on the right side as a left shot. So is [Sergei] Gonchar, and so is [Kris] Letang.

"There's still some figuring out what the best pairings are going to be.

"And Jordan can play both sides, willing to play both sides."

Leopold and Goligoski are both from Minnesota and played college hockey for the Golden Gophers, but not at the same time. They have not had time yet to reminisce about hangouts they both frequented or memories that overlap.

"A lot of it was just talking about things we were doing, help get him up to speed," Goligoski said, though he is more than a little thrilled to have a fellow alum in the locker room.

"You can never have enough Gophers or enough Minnesota guys on the team," he said.

Leopold couldn't disagree.

"It's funny; I played with a former Gopher [Keith Ballard] when I was in Florida," Leopold said.

Leopold boosted the number of defensemen on the Penguins' roster to eight, and last night the two odd men out were Jay McKee and Martin Skoula.

They might continue to be healthy scratches, Bylsma hinted.

"It's not necessarily the plan to go forward and say we're going to be rotating" defensemen into the lineup, Bylsma said.

"But having added depth to our defense now, adding a guy who could be slotted in anywhere from three or four or five [in the pecking order], is going to change a little bit of that dynamic.

"Certainly, we have a little more depth in that area. If someone weren't playing well, [scratching that defenseman] might be an option."

Traffic problems

The Penguins are fortunate in their work hours that they usually do not hit the heart of rush hour, and even the numerous snow storms this winter hardly have hindered them, but they ran into problems Tuesday.

Heavier traffic than normal forced several players to arrive later than usual for the team's morning skate at Mellon Arena, so Bylsma pushed the start back from 10:30 to 10:40 and shortened the skate.

Everyone made it onto the ice by the adjusted start time except goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who arrived around 11:30, missing his first chance to practice with his teammates since returning from Vancouver, where he served as the third goaltender for Canada and picked up a gold medal.

"I don't know what it was," Bylsma said.

Bylsma was quick to add that it had previously been determined that Fleury would not start Tuesday night.

Tip-ins

The Buffalo game marked the Penguins' 150th consecutive sellout at Mellon Arena. ... The Penguins have four Sunday games remaining, and none will be picked up by NBC. ... Winger Chris Conner was named the American Hockey League player of the month after getting 10 goals and 19 points in 12 games in February for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. ... Comcast digital customers can access Wilkes-Barre/Scranton games On Demand, and through Monday have a free preview of NHL Center Ice.


Shelly Anderson: shanderson@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1721 First Published March 3, 2010 5:00 AM


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