Shelly Anderson's Penguins chat transcript: 11.18.13

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Tim: What do you make of the rotating run of third/fourth line call-up options? Trying to find fits since the lines have been disappointing, rewarding good AHL play or gauging if a move needs to be made? Tangentially, do you feel Jeffrey was mishandled or just didn't recover fully from his knee injury?

Shelly Anderson: That's not really something new. The Penguins most seasons have given a handful of players a chance to come up from the AHL and get into some games. Some of he callups this season have at least in part been because of injuries, but it's also something the Penguins often do as a reward for those who are playing well in the AHL.
As for Dustin Jeffrey, there did seem to be a big change in how he was used -- as in, very lightly -- after his knee injury, but he has sworn that he fully recovered a long time ago and didn't lose any speed or ability. It seems he just fell out of favor with the staff and fell behind a lot of others in the depth chart. Good luck to him with Dallas, which claimed him off of waivers over the weekend.

Ross: Im sure you will be inundated with Jeff Zatkoff questions, so here we go! Despite the schedule allowing Flower to play early on, is there something about Jeff we dont know? Im sure they dont want to throw him to the wolves, but we cant grind Flower this early in the season. Are we on "wait and see" with Vokoun and then make a decision? Thanks!

Shelly Anderson: Nothing secret about Jeff Zatkoff. The Penguins have chosen to ride Marc-Andre Fleury and just give Zatkoff, a rookie, spot starts. No indication that that will change while Tomas Vokoun is out, but the schedule gets pretty busy here, so Zatkoff surely will get a start here and there.

Tim: What's your guess on how long management goes until they think Fleury might be getting too much work and either have to play Zatkoff more or make a move to secure a backup?

Shelly Anderson: Similar question. It's a bit surprising that the Penguins are content to use Fleury this much, but that could change if/when Vokoun comes back. Vokoun, remember, isn't hurt. He just can't play while he is on blood-thinners, which he is taking as a standard precautionary measure after a blood clot scare. He could be back in time to play some games. Plus, unless Fleury makes the Canadian Olympic squad, he'll get a nice long rest in February.

Tim: Any likelihood that the Pens might be thinking of swinging Despres for a young, skilled forward due to the thin vein they have at that spot in Wilkes-Barre?

Shelly Anderson: Doesn't seem to be in the Penguins' plans, but a phone call could always knock Ray Shero's socks off, I suppose.

Oren: Does Jeffrey on waivers mean that they couldn't find a trade partner or did they hope nobody would pick him up?

Shelly Anderson: There probably wasn't much of a trade market for Dustin Jeffrey. If he had cleared waivers, he might have been sent to the AHL so he could play regularly and remain in the organization. But this kind of seems like they were doing him a favor, letting a team pick him up so he might have a fresh start elsewhere.

Tim: Coach Bylsma referenced it after the morning skate, but the Penguins' inability to go to the net and create traffic or "garbage goals" follows why they lost to Boston in the playoffs. I would assume that they thought it was an aberration because the personnel did not change and the ones who did (Iginla, Morrow) are no longer here.

Shelly Anderson: Dan Bylsma today said his players need to go to the net with more regularity and tenacity. I don't get the feeling, though, that the Penguins are nearly as hung up on carryover from the sweep against Boston as the fans are. I get the sense that they simply consider this a team slump.

Rahn: What's your feeling on the slow start of Malkin?

Shelly Anderson: Puzzling, and a bit troubling. He hasn't played poorly all season, but he hasn't been dominating all that often, either. He doesn't seem to be the type who easily gets past stretches of being snakebit and seems to alternate between trying too hard and backing off.

SDWC: Any new buzz on the backup goalie situation?

Shelly Anderson: Again, no. Don't think the Penguins see it as a problem at this point.

Matt: It seems Jokinen has struggled to find chemistry with any of the Pens lines, including the time last year. Do you see him, eventually, on the trading block as part of a package if the team's recent scoring struggles continue?

Shelly Anderson: Jussi Jokinen did seem to find some chemistry with Evgeni Malkin earlier this season. Today, though, Bylsma shook up the lines at the morning skate. Jokinen was on the third line with former Carolina linemate Brandon Sutter. Jokinen has been relatively productive, but if the Penguins are interested in trading him, it would probably be later, closer to the trade deadline. His contract is up after this season, so he would fall into the rental player category.

Alan: Is the staff and front office pleased with what they have with B. Sutter? Maybe I just had higher hopes for him, because of the effusive words they used when describing him after the trade.

Shelly Anderson: I think everyone from the staff to Sutter himself is hoping for a little more from him offensively. But he's doing OK in other areas. And let's not forget -- he is not Jordan Staal. Those effusive words you remember had a lot to do with Sutter being more of a prototypical third-line center than Staal, and that would indicate that while he can be a strong two-way player, he's probably not going to push anyone for the team scoring title.

Joe: Do you think tonight is the night Geno scores a goal? Dude just can't catch a break right now.

Shelly Anderson: Could be. Who knows? It's not just about breaks, though. He has some control over things -- such as when and how often he shoots, whether he chips the puck in or tries to take on two or three opponents, etc.

dave: Why would they move Dupuis to the Malkin line instead of Kunitz? Kunitz had some success with Malkin a couple of years ago.

Shelly Anderson: Bylsma didn't directly address this, but he did say that matchups play a part, and he did call Anaheim "one of the fastest, if not the fastest" team. Pascal Dupuis brings speed to Malkin's line.

dave: What do you think the problem is with Malkin? Could it be something off the ice?

Shelly Anderson: Not that I've heard about, but anything is possible.

Miller: Brooks Orpik's contract is up at the end of the season and it's natural to speculate that the defensive depth the Pens have built up would replace him, but I think his style of play and his underrated leadership role on the team are not to be forgotten. How do you see this playing out?

Shelly Anderson: Brooks Orpik has declined to speak at all about his contract situation. The Penguins have done a good job of signing players they really want to keep before they reach unrestricted free agency. But we have to be careful not to add two and two and get five here. You described some of the things that make him valuable, and the team might well re-sign him during the season or before the July free agency period.

Harold: What's the rationale in scratching Bortuzzo? Is he the latest player to land in the coach's doghouse? Seems like he has a lot more upside than Engelland

Shelly Anderson: Doubt it's a doghouse situation. More likely, just giving everyone a chance to play, based on the size and speed and physical aspects of the opponent.

Miller: How has Jacques Martin been fitting in? Loved the hire at that time. And the defense and Fleury have been terrific, which was part of his focus, correct?

Shelly Anderson: Jacques Martin is known for his understanding of defense, and you would like to think he's had a hand in what the Penguins are doing in that department. Martin has been one of the assistants on the bench, rather than upstairs, lately. However, the Penguins really don't talk about the specific roles of the assistants much.

Shelly Anderson: OK, everyone. That flew by. Thanks for the questions. Same time, next week.

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