Penguins Notebook: Afternoon games require adjustments
Penguins forward Max Talbot on playing an afternoon game today: "We'll be prepared, but the routine is different."
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Friday afternoon games aren't just a rarity here; they're pretty much unheard of.
The Penguins, though, will face Ottawa at 1:08 p.m. today at Consol Energy Center, and follow that with a game against Calgary at the same time Saturday.
Players don't seem particularly upset about this wrinkle in the schedule, but do acknowledge it will affect the way they get ready for the games.
"We'll be prepared," center Max Talbot said, "but the routine is different."
The most obvious change is that there will not be a game-day skate either time. Some players likely see that as one of the biggest benefits to playing in the afternoon; others, including Penguins forward Mike Rupp, appreciate the opportunity to get on the ice well before the opening faceoff.
"When I wake up in the morning, probably the first half of the day, you're feeling a little stiff," he said. "The morning skate is always good to kind of get a sweat, loosen up.
"When you don't have those, I tend to need to come to the rink little earlier" to get ready for the game.
Talbot, meanwhile, figures the biggest adjustment when playing in the afternoon revolves around food.
"Do you eat breakfast or do you eat pasta?" he said.
"That's the biggest thing, what do you eat?"
His solution: Compromise.
"I think I'll do both," Talbot said.
"I'll do a side of eggs and some pasta, with meat sauce."
Obviously, eating pasta at 8:30 a.m. isn't part of his usual routine. Still, he figures the changes cease to matter when he reports to work.
"Once you get to the rink three hours before the game, it's the same," Talbot said. "You get in the building, and you don't know if it's 1 or 7."
Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury of the Penguins is expected to make his seventh consecutive start today, but it won't necessarily be because Brent Johnson still isn't physically able to play.
Johnson has been bothered by an inner-ear problem that kept him on the bench when the Penguins visited Florida Monday and Buffalo Wednesday, but said after practice Thursday that he is ready to return.
"Everything's good," said Johnson, who is the early favorite to play Saturday against the Flames.
Ottawa right winger Alex Kovalev recorded his 1,000th NHL point Monday.
He accumulated 347 of those while appearing in 345 games with the Penguins.
On the same night, Penguins alum Jarkko Ruutu dressed for his 600th NHL game.
For the season, Kovalev has six goals and five assists in 22 games, Ruutu one goal and two assists in 22 games and Sergei Gonchar, who left the Penguins in July as a free agent, four goals and 10 assists in 22 games.
Gonchar, whose plus-minus rating of minus-12 ties fellow defenseman Chris Phillips for the Senators' worst, was excused from practice Thursday for what Ottawa coach Cory Clouston described as "maintenance."
Penguins center Jordan Staal, recovering from surgery to repair a broken right hand, worked out on the ice with conditioning coach Mike Kadar before practice Thursday.
Staal did not wear a glove on his right hand, which was heavily bandaged, but did keep both hands on his stick when handling the puck. He has not played this season because of a foot infection and the broken hand, but is expected to join the lineup around mid-December.
Forward Mike Comrie, who has dressed for just two of the Penguins' past eight games, left practice early. His departure was not explained, and his status for the Ottawa game is not known. ... Seven players have scored at least one winning goal for the Penguins this season. Sidney Crosby leads the club with 15 goals -- more than twice as many as any teammate -- but none has been a winner.
First Published November 26, 2010 12:00 am