Chris: After watching the past 2 games, I couldn't help but notice the large contingency of Pens fans at each road game. What do you think is the main reason for this? Up until the Crosby draft, you had to clean the cob webs off the Mellon Arena seats, and now, not only do they fill out their own arena, they're filling other arenas too.
Shelly Anderson: There's no doubt the Penguins travel well, as they say. You see Penguins jerseys a lot at road games. The Penguins have become one of the premier franchises with their recognizable names and stars. Some people are no doubt displaced Pittsburghers. Others are looking to tie in a hockey game with a road trip. Remember, it's not that easy to get tickets to Penguins home games, and a lot of other teams don't sell out their games.
mike: Any idea when or if Letang has seen teams doctors yet.? fingers/toes crossed. Should Kris miss any significant time, do you see Simon coming back to the line-up this week or does Lovejoy get his shot. thanks as always
Shelly Anderson: Between the time you submitted you question and chat time, we found out the defenseman Kris Letang is being evaluated today, so an update could come as early as postgame tonight or possibly after practice Tuesday. He has a suspected concussion. We also learned that Deryk Engelland is out because of an undisclosed injury. So Ben Lovejoy is in, and the Penguins have called up Brian Strait to play tonight against Phoenix.
GASteeler: Is there any logic to call-ups from W-B? Also, is Jeffrey able to shuttle to W-B w/o clearing waivers, or is it only Tangradi?
Steve: Any explanation from Shero or Bylsma why they called Strait up over Despres?
Shelly Anderson: It appears this is simply a choice of defenseman based on playing style. They are replacing Deryk Engelland in the lineup tonight, and Strait is more of a physical defensive defenseman. I asked Dan Bylsma about the fact that the Penguins have not only good organizational depth on defense but also different types of defensemen in the system. You can catch his comments on PG+ or in tomorrow's Post-Gazette.
Dustin Jeffrey would have to clear waivers to be sent to Wilkes-Barre, while Eric Tangradi does not have to.
Michael: How did Beau look out in Denver this weekend?
Shelly Anderson: Forward Beau Bennett, the Penguins' first-round pick in 2010, got to hang out with the Penguins some in Denver. He plays at Denver University, but is out after having wrist surgery in December. It's not known whether he will be able to come back this season. That makes his choice to return for his junior season or turn pro a little tougher. He is skating, and did so after the Penguins practiced at DU on Thursday, but we didn't have time with the time zone thing to stay and watch after we talked to him. It was good to hear that he feels he is getting a little bigger and stronger.
Jim in VT: Is the Strait recall "emergency' or one of the four permissible "normal" late season callups?
Shelly Anderson: Strait is up on an emergency recall, tied directly to Engelland's injury.
Andrew: Any news what players current and former and Lemieux's family who will be at the unveiling of the statue on Wednesday?
Shelly Anderson: Haven't heard much about the particulars of the ceremony, other than it's at noon along Centre Avenue and open to the public. My understanding is that Mario Lemieux -- the person, not the statue -- might speak. It would be difficult for the current players to attend since they are usually headed home at that time following the morning skate on game days. Perhaps Sidney Crosby, who is injured, might care to attend.
Mac: So, do you know if Sid saw his doctors/pt specialists while on the trip to Denver? His pt person is based in Denver right?
Shelly Anderson: I saw Sidney Crosby every day of the recent road trip, so I don't think he traveled elsewhere to see any specialists. I'm not aware that he has any specialists in Colorado, although he is kind of a specialist-in-every-city guy the way some are a girl-in-every-city guy. (just kidding)
Deb: If the Pens win the Stanley Cup this year, how many games would Sid have to play in before he would be eligible to get his name on the cup? What if he only plays post season games?
Shelly Anderson: Aren't we the optimist? ... The guidelines for having your name on the Stanley Cup stipulate that you must play in at least half the regular-season games (41 games) or at least one game in the SC final. However, teams can petition to include players who don't meet that criteria, and it's my understanding that those petitions are pretty much always granted.
chris: Do they feel Tangradi has improved from earlier this season?
Shelly Anderson: It looked at the morning skate as if Eric Tangradi might be a healthy scratch tonight with winger Tyler Kennedy expected back from a high ankle sprain. Tangradi did not skate in line rushes. The Penguins seem to be happy that while he has been playing someone out of position on the fourth line, he has been sound and has provided a physical presence. It's my guess that the physical edge he has over Dustin Jeffrey is the reason he has been playing instead of Jeffrey.
JamesinNYC: Every chat needs one "Anything new on Crosby?" question. He sounds like he is skating fine any details on what symptoms he is still having?
Shelly Anderson: Sidney Crosby hasn't done interviews in about half a month, so we don't know what type of symptoms he's having or their severity. The last he spoke more than two weeks ago, he said his trouble with motion and dizziness had subsided and his headaches has become more tolerable. He certainly looks great on the ice, but he has not been cleared for contact, which is the next step. He has been practicing with the team fairly regularly, sitting out any contact situations, but today he and injured goaltender Brent Johnson skated before the game-day skate.
dave: Do you think Nystrom should have been suspended for the Letang hit?
Shelly Anderson: Not under the current NHL rules, no, because Kris Letang's head did not seem to be the target or necessarily the main point of contact. I'm with the Penguins, though, in hoping the league goes further and outlaws all hits to the head.
Joan: I don't get the argument that Letang put himself in a vulnerable position. Does that mean that any time you reach for a puck, it's open season on you?
Shelly Anderson: Again, a matter of interpretation. Letang had his head down looking at the puck, although it seemed as if he was aware that Eric Nystrom was closing in. Perhaps he expected Nystrom to go after the puck rather than throw a hit. The times when the "vulnerable position" argument seems to get played the most is when a player is near the boards and turns so that a hit sends him dangerously into the boards.
Jim in VT: It seems that Martin's game has improved slightly (very) since separating from michalek. Does the staff agree with this view?
Shelly Anderson: The Penguins do seem to think that Paul Martin has played better. Whether that's because he and Zbynek Michalek have been moved to different pairings is up for debate. I think it might be a coincidence and that Martin simply regained his confidence.
Jim in VT: Living close to Montreal, i get a lot of their media, and never heard the Pens as really being in on anyone at the deadline according to those "experts".Did you hear anything different?
Shelly Anderson: I believe the Penguins looked at some "rental" players whose contracts are expiring this summer. I got an indication that nothing worked out because a few of the guys who might have interested the Penguins ended up re-signing with their clubs before the trade deadline, and because the prices GMs were asking for those remaining were too high. If Penguins GM Ray Shero really thought he needed to make a move, I imagine he would have swallowed hard and done so, but it wasn't necessary given the makeup of the team and the asking prices.
Carol: Do you know who decided to have the Mario statue? Was it the Penguins organization as a whole?
Shelly Anderson: I can't imagine anyone in the organization didn't push for it, although Mario Lemieux himself certainly isn't a self-promoter. This has been talked about and pretty much understood it was going to happen for some time. They wanted to wait until the new arena was open. Certainly, it's richly deserved.
JamesinNYC: How is Beau's skating? The one obvious need in coach Bylsma's system.
Shelly Anderson: Beau Bennett is skilled and I believe his skating is fine. Right now he's just working out with some other injured/walk on players, so I can't tell you if he's gotten faster or slicker.
Shelly Anderson: OK, folks, got to almost all the questions today. Nice mix, as always. Please join us again next week.
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