Shelly Anderson: The Penguins haven't played much lately, but there's always something to talk about. We go live at 2:30 p.m. Eastern with the chat.
Dan: Shelly do you get the feeling that the Pens coaching staff has found a real gem in Jason Megna ? Enough so that he may have moved past Beau Bennett in the pecking order ?
Shelly Anderson: I've liked what I've seen from rookie Jayson Megna, an undrafted winger who got the team's attention as an invitee during those summer development camps, and it sounds as if you do, too. The coaching staff does see good things for Megna, but it's doubtful he has moved past Beau Bennett, a first-round pick, in the organization. The Penguins just need Bennett to stay healthy.
A: Is Crosby really humble and down to earth?
Shelly Anderson: Yes, from everything I've seen in my time around him over the years, he is.
Peter-UK: With Bylsma stating that Despres needs to work on his defensive game, why has there been no similar critical opinion of Orpik or Letang's defensive game when they have been far more culpable this season on that end?
Shelly Anderson: Perhaps it has to do with Simon Despres still being in the developmental stage of his career, as opposed to a couple of veterans. Despres is one of those defensemen who had lots of offensive talent when he was drafted. Kris Letang, early in his career, had a similar dynamic and was asked to tighten his defensive game, too. Letang is having a disappointing season, and you have to wonder how much of that is because of injuries and maybe even lingering limitations from those injuries. Brooks Orpik has had some noticeable poor games, but I can't say that he's overall having a bad season.
Dave: My question is, do you think some fans are going way overboard with their negativity towards the team, specifically, Dan Bylsma? This is directed at certain sites.
Shelly Anderson: I guess I'm not plugged in to those fans because I haven't seen or heard a lot of criticism of Dan Bylsma since last summer after the Penguins got swept by Boston.
Chuck: Shelly, Over the weekend DB said he liked Megna's speed with Crosby but today he practiced on the 4th line. Whould we really expect to see CK on the top unit tonight?
Shelly Anderson: It certainly looks as if Chuck Kobasew will return from injury tonight and play on Sidney Crosby's line. He and Megna switched spots this morning at the game-day skate, with Megna on the fourth line. Megna has been activated from IR, and the only other "forward" available would be Deryk Engelland barring a very late call-up. As for the switch of Kobasew and Megna, I guess you'll have to chalk that up to a coach's choice.
Jay: How privy are reporters to contract negotiations between Shero and players? For example, I've heard reporters say Shero has given verbal agreements to trade or not trade before their new contracts kick in. Would that be more speculation when a direct quote is not part of the report?
Shelly Anderson: That's a basic reporting question. We get as much information as those involved are willing to give us. I would hope that we would stay away from speculation and simply report what we know. That isn't always a direct quote, though.
Clint: Have you had a chance to talk to some of the guys who are not going over to Sochi about what they will do with time off?
Shelly Anderson: Only a couple and very briefly. Seems as if some will travel for a while, others have kids in school here. The team very well could start skating again at least a few days before the Olympians return from Sochi.
dave: Why did it take so long for Dupuis to have his surgery? Did it take this long for the swelling to go down?
Shelly Anderson: That's a good question. I pressed Dan Bylsma a little on that last week because it's unusual for ACL surgery to be put off for more than a month. Bylsma said doctors were waiting for a certain amount of some unspecified healing. Not sure exactly what that means, but it's doubtul swelling was an issue for this long. His surgery is now set for Feb. 12. He got hurt Dec. 23.
dave: If all of those injured players are ready to play, won't they have to make a bunch of roster moves?
Shelly Anderson: No. They sent three players to the AHL last week. Neal and Kobasew were not on IR. Megna and Martin have been activated from IR, according to the Penguins web roster, and that leaves them with 22 active players -- 12 forwards, their top eight defensemen for the first time in ages and two goaltenders.
Wexford: Craig Adams looks slow, and ineffective. He can still block shots, but I don't see why we don't get a younger, faster guy on that line. Your thoughts?
Shelly Anderson: Craig Adams isn't having his finest season. He has the worst plus-minus on the team at -11. He's still one of their top penalty-killers, and Bylsma has long put a lot of stock in Adams' game.
Clint: What do you think of Craig Adams play over the pa
Shelly Anderson: That's a nicer way of saying pretty much the same thing.
Tony: Any idea why Megna, a player who has shown an ability to work with both Malkin and Crosby in limited opportunities, was placed on the Crosby line for Saturday and Sunday's practice, but then replaced by the rather ineffective (2 pts in 25 games) Chuck Kobasew for today's game?
Shelly Anderson: Again, that's a coach's decision. Perhaps they don't feel Megna is as close to 100 percent as Kobasew. Or they figure Kobasew has some chemistry with Crosby. The two share an agent and have been to summer workout camps together. Either way, if both wingers play tonight, the lines could get shifted around, as they often are in-game.
RRP: I love Dan Bylsma and think he may be the greatest thing that's happened to the City of Pittsburgh. Do you think the way the team has performed this year has alleviated any concerns the organization and fans may have had about him after a few bad playoff defeats? Any chance of him getting a longer term extension after what seemed to be a lukewarm vote of confidence this past off-season? And any chance he may one day hold public office?
Shelly Anderson: Careful, Bill Peduto is a Penguins fan and might read this. Wouldn't want him to think Bylsma is after his job. It's pretty amazing the turnaround that seems to have taken place from last summer to now. The ovation Bylsma got Wednesday in recognition of moving into first place on the franchise list of wins among coaches was warm and loud. Remember, he won his Jack Adams (top coach) Award after getting a lot out of the team during an injury-plagued season. Seems as if he's doing the same thing now. Not sure, though, that there's a contract extension coming in the immediate future. It's not as though he has to sell himself to recruits.
Clint: At seasons end, Pens have Niskanen and Orpik as UFA's. Doesnt seem likely both will be kept, so do you see Pens leaning one way or the other with the 2, given Niskanen is having a career year, or do you see both leaving to let the young D from WBS take over?
Shelly Anderson: I'm not sure I buy your premise. They could re-sign both and let someone else go. Deryk Engelland's contract is up, too. Or they can do something GM Ray Shero has a knack for -- loading up, then letting things get sorted out, perhaps in training camp. That said, Matt Niskanen sure seems to be driving the price of his next contract ever higher.
Tim: So other than Bylsma's own biases, what advantages do you think playing Adams over Sill or Engelland presents?
Shelly Anderson: Adams isn't playing ahead of Zach Sill. They're both on the fourth line. As for Engelland, he's done surprisingly well when used at winger, especially considering he shifts between that and a defenseman during shorthanded situations in-game. But Engelland isn't really a full-time winger.
Tim: Who would be your choice for the first line right wing, given the players available tonight? Assuming Megna and Kobasew were both ready to play.
Shelly Anderson: You guys are really hitting this yard. Bylsma seems to have struck a nerve. I would probably go with Megna -- assuming full health and full speed for both players -- but I don't have a problem with Kobasew getting the nod. I would think we might see other combinations anyway, perhaps Sutter for a shift or two there or Malkin and Crosby together for a shift or two. And we could still see Megna get a shift or two there.
mark: what do you think of Despres? Where does his game need to improve to become a regular at the NHL level? Or is it off the ice that he needs to improve?
Shelly Anderson: From what I've seen, it's mostly a matter of consistency. There have been a few glaring mistakes that have been costly and/or have caught the attention of the coaches. Despres has size, skating ability and some decent instincts.
Sammy: Any news on any trades that Shero is going to make?
Shelly Anderson: Haven't heard anything through the grapevine, actually. I don't know that Shero is set on making a trade. He might well want to see the team at something close to full health before he goes looking.
Chris: How many weeks between the end of the olympics and the trade deadline?
Shelly Anderson: Less than two. The trade deadline is March 5. The Penguins' first game after the break is Feb. 27, and there is a freeze that bans trades during the break.
Shelly Anderson: OK, everyone. Thanks for the questions. Please join in again next week.