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Monday Pens Points: Panthers Gameday

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Torts faces fine and suspension following today's hearing in NYC. Who will captain team USA? Despres is back in AHL and back on the ice and the score sheet. Pens defense complete, but forward lines are still a work in progress.

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Justin K. Aller

Good morning one and all and happy MLK day!

It was my birthday weekend so while busy partying I missed Saturday night fights in Vancouver. John Tortorella has an in-person disciplinary hearing this morning at the NHL offices in New York and, while it won't involve Brendan Shanahan, it will involve Gary Bettman and Bill Daly. Torts, you're a hothead, a bully, and an utter and abject embarrassment to this league.

Sid's captaincy of team Canada was made official yesterday. He is the 6th one-time Penguin to captain an Olympic squad, following in the footsteps of Mario Lemieux (Canada 2002), Jaromir Jagr (Czech Republic 2002), Alexei Kovalev (Russia 2006),Robert Lang (Czech Republic 2006), Aleksey Morozov (Russia 2010).

Who will captain team USA? Canada features 6 NHL captains and 3 of them were chosen for the letters. David Backes appears to be the lead candidate for the C. Also in the game are Callahan, Parise and Brown, all current and former captains.

Simon Despres is back in the AHL and at least he's playing again. He has 3 goals and 1 assist in the last two games. The PensNation debates his future.

On to today's matchup with the Panthers, who are not as easy an opponent for us as it seems on paper. This is the third time we're playing them this year, and each team has won their home game. They had a decent streak of solid play for about a month, but have now entered another slump, and haven't scored a PP goal in the last 9 games.

Injured players James Neal, Paul Martin, Jayson Megna and Chuck Kobasew look to be ready to return. What it will mean for some other players remains to be seen.

Taylor Pyatt will probably shift down to third, but hopefully will continue to crash the net and build on his performance against the Caps.

The return of Paul Martin completes the Pens defense. Orpik-Martin, Scuderi-Letang, Maatta-Niskanen, and Bortuzzo-Engelland at the bottom of the depth chart.

Pens lines at the morning skate are as follows: Kunitz-Crosby-Kobasew, Jokinen-Malkin-Neal, Pyatt-Sutter-Glass, Adams-Sill-Megna. I don't know why the Kobasew move to 1RW, and Megna shift down to 4, unless he isn't actually ready.

Today we begin a stretch of 4 games in 6 days! Time to get back in the swing of things.