Penguins Notebook: Armstrong, Therrien together again
MONTREAL -- Their personalities could not be any more different -- Colby Armstrong is so amiable, Michel Therrien so often gruff -- but their reunion likely couldn't have been more predictable.
When Toronto bought out Armstrong's contract last summer, less than a month after Montreal hired Therrien as coach, it seemed preordained that they would end up together again, unless new Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin objected.
Which he didn't, so Armstrong -- who had played for Therrien in Wilkes-Barre and with the Penguins -- signed with the Canadiens the first day he was eligible to do so.
"I'm obviously comfortable with Michel," Armstrong said before Montreal's game against the Penguins Saturday night at the Bell Centre. "I've had him for a long time and know what he expects."
Therrien is, in many ways, the same coach he was during his first stint behind the Canadiens' bench, even before he joined the Penguins' organization. Armstrong, though, said Therrien isn't exactly the same man he was in their previous times together.
"Maybe he's calmed down a little, maybe his fuse is a little longer," Armstrong said. "But, other than that, he's the same. The same mentality and approach.
"He sets the same standard for everyone. He has a good game plan and holds everyone to it."
Armstrong has been part of a solid fourth line for the Canadiens, but entered Saturday night without a goal since last Feb. 25, a run of 32 consecutive games.
"I've had my chances, for sure," he said. "I just haven't been able to put it in, so it does get frustrating."
No ice for Malkin
Penguins center Evgeni Malkin, recovering from a concussion, has engaged in off-ice workouts the past two days, coach Dan Bylsma said.
Malkin skated Wednesday and Thursday, but Bylsma said there was no medical reason that compelled him to stay off the ice Friday and Saturday.
The problem Saturday, he added, was one of available ice.
The Penguins have not announced a timetable for Malkin to resume practicing or return to the lineup.
Realignment plan bogs down
There is a growing sense that the realignment plan the NHL shared with its member clubs last week is unlikely to be approved by the NHL Players' Association.
The issue is not necessarily how the teams are grouped, but with the fact that there would be two seven-team divisions in the Western Conference and two eight-division teams in the Eastern.
With eight playoff qualifiers coming from each conference, clubs in the West would, on the basis of simple math, have a better chance of getting into the postseason than those in the East. That's a concern to the NHLPA because players can parlay a strong playoff performance into lucrative contracts.
"It's still a work in progress," Penguins left winger Matt Cooke said. "I don't think it's going to be perfect for anybody.
"From a players' aspect, we have to make sure it's an even playing field, all the way around."
Putting 15 teams in each conference wouldn't be simple. Detroit and Columbus, both based in the Eastern time zone, are intent on getting out of the West. That leaves just 14 franchises in the Central, Mountain and Pacific time zones.
Night off for Fleury
There were many reasons to believe that Marc-Andre Fleury would start in goal for the Penguins Saturday.
He has played well consistently, the Penguins were making their only appearance this season in a city about an hour from his hometown and they were in need of a victory after sub-par performances in losses against Florida and Carolina. Bylsma, however, went with Tomas Vokoun, who had been pulled from the game against the Panthers.
"There's some consideration to [starting Fleury in his home province]," Bylsma said. "But with the schedule the way it's been for us, this is a game Tomas was scheduled to play for a couple of weeks."
First Published March 3, 2013 12:00 am