Pens Points Monday: A Whole New Defense

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

Maple Leafs gameday. Orpik, Scuderi, Glass skate, Malkin skips. Letang on IR. Samuelsson, Zolnierczyk re-called. Deadline for Thornton's appeal is today.

Good morning one and all!

First things first. Evgeni Malkin is not on the ice for the Pens morning skate. No official updates yet, but several sources have reported that the Pens believe his injury is "minor and mucle-related". On a bright note, Brooks Orpik skated before the team, and now Rob Scuderi and Tanner Glass have joined the team for morning skate.

Draft after draft, Ray Shero kept stockpiling defensemen like squirrels pile up nuts for the winter. The depth on D sure comes in handy today, since the entire Pens top 4 is out with injuries the young guys are being forced into some decent minutes.

The latest casualty is Kris Letang, who missed Saturday's game in Detroit and was subsequently placed on IR with an undisclosed upper body injury. In unrelated news, Letang came in a disappointing third in Hockey Freeze's fan poll for the best hair in the NHL, behind Erik Karlsson and Ryan Getzlaf.

Following Malkin and Letang injuries and Engelland's upcoming suspension, the team has re-called defenseman Philip Samuelsson and forward Harrison Zolnierczyk from WBS Penguins. So our defensive roster now looks like this: Niskanen, Despres, Maatta, Bortuzzo, Dumoulin, Samuelsson. They have a combined 578 NHL games, of which 444 are Niskanen's. Oh well. We always complain how young guys never get a chance to play.

The Maple Leafs are in town tonight. Speaking of which, the first episode of HBO's 24/7 Red Wings/Maple Leafs - Road to the Winter Classic aired Saturday night. We learned that Randy Carlyle can't operate a toaster, Dion Phaneuf has a closet full of god-awful things (does he dress as a clown in his spare time?), Joffrey Lupul doesn't like Slava Voynov (and no, a guy who can't even spell his own first name properly isn't "hot"), and not even the spectacular HBO production can make David Clarkson come across as likeable.

The Caps and the Flyers played each other last night, in a game in which the only thing to root for is a meteor strike... Anyhow, the Flyers were up 4-1 with less than 10 minutes to go, which we all know is a sure thing. Not. They got Ovechkined in the last minute, when the Caps goalie was pulled for an extra attacker (#8), who got lost in the shuffle and sent one past Mason, who was busy with I don't know what. How does one not watch for Ovechkin in that situation?

Shawn Thornton has the right to appeal his 15-game suspension (any suspension longer than 6 games can be appealed), but will he? If he and the union chose to do so, today is the deadline to file an appeal. Part of me hopes they do just to further showcase this union's directionally misguided efforts of defending the indefensible. Go away and come back on January 11, Thornton.

Oh, and saved the best for last. Check out Petr Mrazek's Winter Classic pads. Awesome.

Anyways, the Leafs tonight at 7 pm. Here's the game preview from CBC. Go baby Pens!

OVERTIME

Watch this video called "On Thin Ice", everyone. I promise it's worth 2.5 minutes. IT WILL MAKE YOUR DAY.

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