Penguins notebook: Streit could be odd defenseman out
OTTAWA, Ontario — A day after Mark Streit manned the Penguins' top power-play unit in his return to the lineup for the first time since April 9, the veteran defenseman ended up quarterbacking the team's second unit at practice Thursday while Trevor Daley worked with the No. 1 group.
That might signal unfortunate news for Streit, who logged 15 minutes and 30 seconds in Game 3 against Ottawa and finished with an assist, two shots on goal and a minus-1 rating in the 5-1 loss. The Penguins also had a 13-5 edge in shot attempts during Streit's 9:37 of five-on-five ice time, much of which came after the team trailed.
Sullivan indicated in his postgame press conference an 11-forward, seven-defensemen lineup is not appealing as a long-term solution for the Penguins.
“I don't think we're a coaching staff that believes we're going to play seven defensemen, eleven forwards every night,” Sullivan said. “We did it for specific reasons.”
Following the workout at the University of Ottawa's Minto Sports Complex, Streit, acquired at the trade deadline and in the Eastern Conference final for the first time in his career, sounded at peace with whatever plan the Penguins follow in Game 4.
“I don't think about it,” he said. “I take one day at a time. … We'll see what's going to happen, who's going to play. I'm ready. I'm excited. I felt pretty good as the game went on. It was great to be out there.”
He particularly appreciated how Sullivan used special teams opportunities to ease Streit back into action.
“You don't get to practice a whole lot during the playoffs, so when you jump in a game like that, obviously with the pace and everything, you need a little bit of time,” Streit said. “If you get out there on the PP, and you're out there for a minute, you get to handle the puck a little bit. You make some plays, you get some shots. It gives you a good feeling, a lot of confidence. It definitely made it easier to find my way back.”
Shattering the stress
An Evgeni Malkin shot caught everyone's attention at practice as it shattered a pane of glass behind the net.
Some of the Penguins had left the ice already, but others lingered to blast shots at the goal.
For Malkin and a few others, the hammering of pucks and ensuing destruction might've helped release a little stress.
“Don't listen to noise, don't listen to like everything, like forget everything and play how we can,” Malkin said of the mentality in the room. “We have good group, good leadership and just show our game.”
Another day passed with Bryan Rust, Patric Hornqvist and Justin Schultz absent from the Penguins' practice.
Rust and Hornqvist skated Thursday morning, and Schultz took a scheduled day off, Sullivan said. All three remain “day-to-day” with upper-body injuries. Rust and Hornqvist, present at Minto Sports Complex, kept themselves amused with soccer balls on the field adjacent to the rink.
Sullivan added Tom Kuhnhackl to the list of players out with day-to-day statuses. The winger, who did not practice or skate on his own Thursday, must recover from a lower-body injury.
Kuhnhackl has not landed in the lineup since Game 6 of the second round. Rust and Schultz suffered injuries during Game 2 of the Eastern Conference final and missed Game 3. Hornqvist missed Games 2 and 3.
The NHL released its list of the league's 20 greatest Stanley Cup teams as determined by fan voting, and three Penguins squads made the cut.
From the Mario Lemieux era, the 1990-91 and 1991-92 Penguins landed on the list.
From the Sidney Crosby era, the 2015-16 team garnered a spot.
Three other franchises — Montreal, the New York Islanders and Edmonton — also had three-plus teams on the list. But only the Penguins and Detroit, selected for its 1997-98 and 2001-02 teams, had multiple representatives from non-consecutive seasons.
Voting for the greatest team in NHL history ends May 25. The NHL will release the top-10 list during the Stanley Cup Final with the best of all time announced during Game 4.