Penguins notebook: Plan on goalie usage will be kept secret
WASHINGTON — How the Penguins will divvy up playing time among goaltenders Marc-Andre Fleury, Matt Murray and Jeff Zatkoff is a plan coach Mike Sullivan intends to keep private.
But all three will be at his disposal at Consol Energy Center and on the road.
Sullivan confirmed the goalie trio will travel with the team. Murray, who started against the Washington Capitals on Tuesday night, likely surpassed Zatkoff for the No. 2 spot on the depth chart, but neither the coach nor general manager Jim Rutherford ruled out the chance that all three netminders see time as the team makes its way through a grueling March schedule that includes two instances of consecutive days off.
“Obviously, we've got a lot of games coming up here in a short amount of time,” Sullivan said. “We're going to need our backup to help us.”
Added Rutherford: “We have three goalies here and three guys that are capable. It'll be up to the coach. He'll just have more options. … Fleury will get more time off (between games), so there will be enough time in the optional practices for two of the goalies to get their shots.”
Defenseman Justin Schultz, acquired in a trade with Edmonton on Saturday, will “be available” for Thursday's home game against the New York Rangers, Sullivan said.
Schultz needed a few days to deal with immigration issues before joining the team.
Sullivan did not say whether Schultz will play against the Rangers. Speculation lingers about who sits between Schultz and the other defensemen, namely Ian Cole, who returned to the lineup Feb. 21 after 11 healthy scratches and mostly performed effectively in Ben Lovejoy's place on the team's third defensive pairing.
Limited power supply
The Penguins ended an 0-for-19 power-play slump in their 6-0 win over Arizona on Monday night, but their 1-for-5 performance with the man advantage failed to satisfy a unit in search of something closer to the hot streak in maintained through January.
“I thought we'd have a few there on the power play, but we didn't really execute during the end,” winger Patric Hornqvist said.
No big deal
As the trade deadline passed Monday, the Penguins' players shrugged.
Boring trades and a lack of player movement overall disappointed hockey fans in search of meaningful last-minute transactions, but it sat well with the skaters in the Penguins locker room.
“For us, it didn't really feel like (an important day),” Hornqvist said.
Aside from sending winger Sergei Plotnikov down the hallway at Consol Energy Center to Arizona in the first trade of the deadline day, the Penguins stood by their roster as the window for deals closed.
Until Schultz arrives, the names and faces in the Penguins locker room are all too familiar, a cause for celebration in the eyes of Hornqvist and others.
“I think we're a dangerous team,” defenseman Kris Letang said. “Now that (Evgeni Malkin) is back. (Nick) Bonino is back. We have Eric Fehr coming back soon. … We just have to get better as a unit.”
Rarely do teams in games with six-goal margins remain clear of petty confrontations, but the Penguins and Arizona achieved it.
Sullivan credited his players for how they went about their business, even when the Coyotes' comeback hopes became nonexistent.
“We've challenged our team to stay disciplined in the sense that we don't go off on tangents,” Sullivan said. “We don't away from our team concept, that we play within ourselves and we understand how we want to play as a group. When you get a few-goal lead, sometimes it can be a tendency to exhale and not defend quite as hard or not be as diligent with your puck management.”