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Pens Points: Eye of the Storm

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Penguins look to bounce back as Hurricanes roll into town for final home game before heading back on the road. Get ready for tonight’s contest with a new edition of Pens Points.

NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins at Carolina Hurricanes James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

It feels like the Penguins just returned from a long road trip but they will be heading out once again on Thursday for a trip through Florida and Philadelphia. Before they head south, they host the Carolina Hurricanes this evening at PPG Paints Arena for a key Metropolitan division showdown with possible playoff implications.

Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 PM and will be broadcast on AT&T Sports Network.

Get ready for tonight’s game with a new Pens Points...

In their first major trade of this season, the Penguins acquired Tanner Pearson in exchange for Carl Hagelin back in November. Since joining the Penguins, Pearson has scored eight goals but he is currently mired in an extended pointless drought. While Pearson has been effective, the Penguins will likely need a little more from him down the stretch. [Pensburgh]

On Friday, the Penguins made one of the first significant trades of this trade deadline season, brining in Nick Bjugstad and Jared McCann from the Florida Panthers. Since the trade, both guys have played in two games for the Pens, but Monday was their first taste of practice with their new teammates. [Pensburgh]

It’s looking more and more likely that Justin Schultz will make his return to the Penguins lineup sooner rather than later. Returning to full practice, which he did Monday, is the final step to returning to game action which could come as soon as Thursday. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

The imminent return of Schultz to the lineup presents a few questions for Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan. Deciding to gets sent to the press box in lieu of Schultz is not an easy decision, but having #4 back on the ice will immediately help the Penguins where they need it most. [Trib Live]

If all goes according to plan, Penguins captain Sidney Crosby will tie then break Mario Lemieux’s franchise record for most games played on the team’s upcoming road trip. While it will be quite the honor for Crosby, he refuses to talk about his soon to be record breaking accomplishment. [Trib Live]

Mike Sullivan is a native of Massachusetts so Sunday night’s Super Bowl was a pretty big event for the Penguins head coach. While he watched his favorite team win a record tying sixth Super Bowl title, Sullivan marveled at the level of in-game coaching strategy that goes on and how he can relate back to his job in Pittsburgh. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

Going from sunny Florida to bitter cold Pennsylvania won’t be the only changes for Nick Bjugstad and Jared McCann. Their move north may also come with a position switch if the Penguins decide to go that route. It’s no big deal to either player if they are asked to adjust where they play on the ice. [Trib Live]

At one time, Nick Bjugstad was a can’t miss prospect at the University of Minnesota certain to make a big splash once he reached the NHL. Unfortunately for Bjugstad, that big splash never really came during his time in Florida, but he is hoping a change of scenery puts his name back in the spotlight. [The Hockey News]

News and notes from around the NHL...

Jack Roslovic of the WInnipeg Jets took home First Star of the Week honors for his stellar play last week. Over the course of four games, Roslovic tied for the league lead in scoring with six points, five being goals. Joining Roslovic on the podium were Carter Hart of the Philadelphia Flyers and Mika Zibanejad of the New York Rangers. [NHL]

Currently, there are eight teams within five points of the final wild card spot in the Western Conference. With a little over two months of season left, the race for the playoffs out west will be one you want to keep an eye on to see how it all plays out. [ESPN]