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Penguins notebook: 'Scraggly' Matt Murray looking forward to lighter schedule

Jonathan Bombulie
| Monday, Nov. 13, 2017, 1:45 p.m.
Penguins goaltender Matt Murray clears the puck away from the Coyotes' Mario Kempe in the second period Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017, at PPG Paints Arena.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Penguins goaltender Matt Murray clears the puck away from the Coyotes' Mario Kempe in the second period Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017, at PPG Paints Arena.

After an arduous first six weeks of the season, the Penguins are looking forward to a more favorable schedule in the next month.

In a related story, goalie Matt Murray is looking forward to getting a haircut.

During the first 42 days of the season, the Penguins played 19 games. Thirteen were on the road, including stops in all four major North American time zones.

During the next 30 days, the Penguins will play 13 games. Only three are on the road, and they're relatively short trips within the Eastern time zone to Ottawa, Boston and Buffalo.

On the ice, the next month will give the Penguins a chance to work on smoothing the rough edges of their game — and they've been plenty rough at times over the first six weeks — as well as make up some ground in the standings.

It started with a practice Monday morning leading into a home game with the Sabres on Tuesday night.

The Penguins are 5-0-1 at home and 4-7-2 on the road this season.

“I don't think we can make excuses for the first part of the schedule because I think every team goes through a little bit of a stretch like that,” winger Ryan Reaves said. “But it's definitely nice to be able to get a couple days rest in between games. Feeling fresh, you expect to do a little bit better than we have.”

Off the ice, Penguins players will have a chance to catch up on some day-to-day activities that got neglected while the team was flying all over the continent.

Murray, for instance, is particular about where he gets his hair cut. He's not going to stop at the Supercuts by the airport in Minneapolis during a road trip. He's going to make an appointment to see the stylist he likes in Cranberry.

“She does it exactly the way I like it, so I'm not going to anybody else now,” Murray said. “When you're on an 11-day road trip and you come home for three days and two games and we're right back on the road again, there's no time to get your hair cut. You look like a dog, all scraggly. No time to shave properly.

“It can be tough. Any downtime you get at home when you've been on the road so much, you want to spend it with your family. I want to spend it with my girlfriend and my dog.”

No comment

Evgeni Malkin declined to be interviewed Monday about a social media post supporting Russian president Vladimir Putin he made the day before.

On Sunday, Malkin posted a photo of himself and Putin on his Instagram account with the caption, “Putin team,” which is a social media movement Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin started earlier this month to support the Russian president in advance of March's national election.

Niemi available

If they still want him, the Penguins could bring goalie Antti Niemi back into the fold Tuesday.

After he went 0-1 with a .874 save percentage in two appearances with the Florida Panthers, they waived the 34-year-old goaltender Monday.

If they're so inclined, the Penguins could reclaim Niemi before noon Tuesday and assign him immediately to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the AHL. Unless they're desperate for depth, though, such a move is unlikely, given Niemi allowed 16 goals in seven periods with the Penguins before being waived Oct. 24.

Saluting veterans

The Penguins will host 15 veterans for morning skate and will wear military-themed warm-up jerseys before Tuesday night's game against Buffalo as part of their annual Veterans Day festivities.

Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jbombulie@tribweb.com or via Twitter at @BombulieTrib.

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