After a 6-2 drubbing where the Pens looked pretty lifeless against the Buffalo Sabres, Ray Shero's made a few call-ups. He's brought back Eric Tangradi and goalie Brad Thiessen from Wilkes-Barre. Both are intriguing, for different reasons.
Tangradi, who turned just 23 earlier this month, has played 12 games in Pittsburgh this year, mostly in a 4th line role and has been unable to generate any points. He continues to produce at the AHL level, but there are questions about if his skating and style make him a viable player in Dan Bylsma's system. Was Tangradi called up to get him in NHL action prior to next Monday's trade deadline? It seems like a possibility. Or is this just yet another chance for the young power forward to get an opportunity. Time will tell, but it seems like it is running out for Tangradi in the Penguins organization if he doesn't get it together quickly.
After veteran Brent Johnson had another poor outing in the Buffalo game, the Thiessen promotion is a head-turning one as well. Thiessen, the AHL goalie of the year last year, has regressed back to earth this season with a so-so year so far in the minors. But most in the organization believe he could be the NHL backup goalie of the future, and the only way to see if that is the case is to give him some NHL chances. After a few solid seasons, Johnson has had a rough year and hasn't been able to spell Marc-Andre Fleury. The Pens badly need to limit Fleury's appearances and giving Thiessen a chance might be the best bet. (Or of course, Fleury or Johnson may just be ill or have some sort of unreported small injury, often a cause of the game-day goalie call-up).
Either way, you lose 6-2 in the NHL and you can bet some changes are coming. Ben Lovejoy has been a frequent healthy scratch and one wonders if he could see some game time soon. Brooks Orpik did not take the morning skate today and didn't practice yesterday- which Bylsma called a maintenance day but perhaps could be more.
Below, the lines used in practice this morning.
Is Dustin Jeffrey really going to be the odd man out? He's played some of his best hockey in recent games and wouldn't seem like the obvious candidate to take a seat. We'll see how Bylsma is going to work it tonight when the Pens take on the conference leading New York Rangers.