Penguins Notebook: Martin in weird situation
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NEWARK, N.J. -- Paul Martin didn't circle this date on his calendar when he signed with the Penguins as a free agent a few months back, and would like to approach his game today as just one of 82 on the regular-season schedule.
The reality, though, is that when the Penguins visit the Prudential Center at 4:08 p.m. today, Martin will be facing the only team for which he had ever worked before joining the Penguins, and that's more than enough to make it stand out.
"I think it will be a little more ... I don't want to say emotional, but it definitely will be weird, I think," Martin said.
While he seems to be settling in fairly well with his new club -- Martin and fellow defenseman Alex Goligoski are the only Penguins with more than one point in the first two games -- he hasn't completely severed ties to his old club.
"There will be some text messages every now and then," Martin said. "I'm in pretty good [contact] with most of the older guys."
Specifically, he mentioned defensemen Andy Greene and Colin White, goalie Martin Brodeur and fellow Minnesotan Jamie Langenbrunner, as well as the Devils' equipment and training staffs.
"It's kind of a big family," he said. "It will definitely be different, warming up on the other side of the ice."
And, regardless of how comfortable he has gotten in his new surroundings, Martin knows that today's game is likely to spark a reaction unlike any he has experienced.
"All of a sudden, I'll be playing against the guys I've been friends with for seven years," he said. "I'm sure there will be some different kinds of feelings."
Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury was understandably unhappy Sunday morning while reflecting on the game-winning goal he had given up to Scott Gomez of Montreal 14 hours or so earlier.
Gomez broke a 2-2 tie at 18:12 of the third period when he slid a shot -- one Gomez described as "a changeup" -- between Fleury's legs from below the left faceoff dot.
"I was there," Fleury said. "I was on my post. I think I just lifted my stick too quick, too quick to get the puck. I don't know why. It just squeaked by."
While coach Dan Bylsma was noncommittal about whether he will start Fleury or Brent Johnson against the Devils, Fleury said that getting back into a game should help him to shake off the Gomez goal.
"I feel better than I did last night," he said. "It will be good to play again and put it in the back [of my mind]."
Despite the Devils' struggles early this season, recent history suggests they are the team the Penguins should least want to face when trying to get a victory.
New Jersey, after all, went 6-0 against them in 2009-10, and that head-to-head record is what allowed the Devils to claim the Atlantic Division championship.
Explaining the Devils' dominance isn't easy, but an edge in special-teams play and some exceptional work by Brodeur provide a pretty good start.
"Brodeur, by his standards, it probably wasn't one of his best years," defenseman Brooks Orpik said. "But against us, it seemed like he was shutting us out or allowing one goal on 35 shots every time we played him."
Indeed, the Penguins were outscored, 22-5, in those six games, and most of the credit for the size of that disparity belongs to Brodeur.
"We didn't score enough against them," center Sidney Crosby said.
Right winger Pascal Dupuis was bumped from his spot on the top line to the No. 4 unit during practice Sunday, and it wasn't an accident.
Bylsma made it clear that he expects Dupuis to be more productive than he was in the first two games, specifically in regard to puck management and using his speed more effectively.
"Some of the details he brought last year that made him successful have not been there," Bylsma said. "He's gotten away from that in his game."
First Published October 11, 2010 12:00 am