Penguins notebook: Paul Martin back, focused on playoffs



WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- Defenseman Paul Martin, who sat out 18 games with a broken right hand, was back in the Penguins' lineup Thursday night when they faced Winnipeg at MTS Centre.

He had some extra padding and new gloves to protect the hand that had been injured, along with a pretty good sense of what he hoped to accomplish during the final six regular-season games.

"Shake off some rust, get back my timing," he said after the Penguins' game-day skate. "Make sure I'm in good game shape come playoffs."

Coach Dan Bylsma said he planned to give Martin extensive work on special teams as well as at full strength.

"It's a good chance for him to play some games before the playoffs come around," Bylsma said. "It's going to be good to get him back in there and get him back in there in a lot of different situations."

Martin added that a half-dozen games should be "plenty" to get his game back in synch, but acknowledged that "it might take a couple of games to get back into the flow of things, where your instincts take over."

He had two goals and 10 assists in 33 games before being hurt while playing for Team USA in the Olympics.

Jets new style fits Tangradi

Winnipeg winger Eric Tangradi, a former Penguin, continues battling to establish himself in the NHL, and his stats for the season -- three goals and three assists in 50 games before facing the Penguins -- suggest he certainly hasn't become a major offensive force yet.

He did, however, have two goals in the seven games that preceded the one against the Penguins.

"I've been able to establish a little bit of confidence," Tangradi said.

He suggested the style of game Paul Maurice coaches benefits him -- "I've always been somebody that, when I'm forced to play quicker, it makes me a better player, and this system forces you to play fast," he said -- and Maurice said he likes what he's seen from Tangradi recently.

"He's in on the forecheck," Maurice said. "He's controlling the puck in the offensive zone and that's what his role is for us here," Maurice said.

"What we'd like [Tangradi and Anthony Peluso] to do is get really good at being where they are, and then there will be an opportunity [to move up]," Maurice said. "I want him to get good in the fourth-line role, and, when the opportunity comes, as it always does over the course of the year, he clearly is the guy who gets that top-line chance."

Orpik joins a 700 club

Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik appeared in his 700th career game -- all with the Penguins -- Thursday night. He joined Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr, Jean Pronovost and Rick Kehoe as the only players in franchise history to dress for that many games as a Penguin. Lemieux is the only one of those to spend his entire career with one team.

"That number doesn't really carry that much significance," Orpik said. "But just playing your whole career for one team has been pretty cool."

Maurice knows Penguins

Although Maurice never coached the Penguins, he has worked with more than a few of their players. He had forwards Craig Adams, Brandon Sutter and Jussi Jokinen in Carolina and Evgeni Malkin with Magnitogorsk of the Kontinental Hockey League during the NHL lockout just over a year ago.

Maurice's observations:

* "I was just absolutely amazed at [Malkin's] work ethic. He didn't need to be [so committed]. We were in Magnitogorsk. No cameras there. He was such a fantastic example of professionalism and a great leader for those young guys."

* "Jussi Jokinen is one of my all-time favorite pros, just personality-wise and [with] the things he went through to be a good pro. He's on the perfect team for his abilities."

* "When [Sutter] was a 20-year-old -- or, geez, 18, 19 -- we were a little thin at center ice at times and we'd go on the road and start him. Other teams would be licking their chops and throw out their best players [against him]. We went on a nice little run on the road before they figured out this guy was pretty good defensively."


Dave Molinari: Dmolinari@Post-Gazette.com and Twitter @MolinariPG.

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