Jason Brough

Phil Kessel, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Anders Nilsson

Penguins insist they’re not ‘mad at each other’


The Pittsburgh Penguins did some clarifying today.

Or maybe it was damage control.

Regardless, they insist they’re not “mad at each other,” as Evgeni Malkin expressed Saturday after a 4-0 loss to New Jersey.

“It’s a little bit not what I want to say,” Malkin said, per NHL.com’s Wes Crosby. “It’s not mad at each other. … It’s just the game. We don’t like how we play.”

Sidney Crosby added that he spoke to Malkin and believes his teammate was misunderstood.

“He did not mean we are mad at each other,” said Crosby. “He meant we are frustrated.”

Understandable. The Penguins have lost three of their last four. Though they’re 10-7-0 on the season, if not for the play of goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, their record would undoubtedly look worse. Offensively — the supposed strength of the roster — it has been a serious struggle.

Pittsburgh plays its next four games at home, starting tomorrow versus Minnesota.

And the Penguins would be wise to find their form soon, because in December the schedule turns tough, with eight games out of 14 on the road.

The Lightning are ‘banged up’ — no Johnson, Paquette, or Drouin tonight

2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game One

The Tampa Bay Lightning will have a decidedly different lineup tonight in Sunrise versus the Panthers. Forwards Tyler Johnson, Cedric Paquette and Jonathan Drouin will all miss the game with injuries. AHL call-ups Jonathan Marchessault, Mike Blunden, and Matt Taormina will all play.

“We are banged up right now,” coach Jon Cooper told the Tampa Bay Times.

On the bright side, Cooper doesn’t consider any of the injuries to be long-term concerns, and none of the three have been ruled out for Thursday’s home game versus the Rangers.

The Lightning lost 5-4 in a shootout Saturday at home to Florida. They’re 5-8-3 since starting the season 3-0-0.

Related: Ondrej Palat out 3-5 weeks

Bogosian feels ‘ready to go’ for Sabres

Zach Bogosian, Matt Niskanen

Sabres defenseman Zach Bogosian should be back in the lineup “sometime this week,” according to head coach Dan Bylsma.

And if it were up to Bogosian, it would be tomorrow at home versus Dallas.

“I’m not going to sit here and say I’m in,” he told John Vogl of the Buffalo News. “That’s up to coach, but I feel like I’m ready to go.”

Bogosian has been sidelined all year with a lower-body injury. This morning at practice, he was skating on the second pairing with Jake McCabe:

If it’s not tomorrow versus Dallas, Bogosian’s next chance to play would be Thursday in St. Louis.

Bogosian logged big minutes for the Sabres last season after being traded from Winnipeg. Three times he surpassed 30 minutes of ice time in a game. This season, his return could be a boon for a team that’s already enjoying some success. Buffalo is 6-2-1 in its last nine games.

Related: Comeback close for Bogosian?

Duchene, Zuccarello and Reimer are NHL’s three stars of the week

Matt Duchene

Avalanche center Matt Duchene, Rangers winger Mats Zuccarello and Maple Leafs goalie James Reimer have been named the NHL’s three stars for the past week.

From NHL.com:

Duchene led the NHL with four goals and eight points – including three multi-point performances in as many outings – to help the Avalanche (7-9-1, 15 points) begin their season-long, seven-game road trip with a 3-0-0 record.

Zuccarello paced the NHL with five assists and ranked second with seven points in four outings to help the League-leading Rangers (14-2-2, 30 points) extend their winning streak to nine games and point streak to 13 contests (11-0-2).

Reimer went 3-0-0 with a 1.62 goals-against average and .952 save percentage to backstop the Maple Leafs (5-9-4, 14 points) to three wins in four games.

Not a bad response to those trade rumors, eh?

Related: Duchene ‘hopeful’ that he’ll stay with Avs

This year’s Calgary? Maybe it’s New Jersey

Sergey Kalinin, Cory Schneider

Every year it seems there’s one team that wins in spite of its lineup and underlying statistics.

Last year, that team was Calgary. The year before, Colorado. The year before that, Toronto.

This year? The early candidate is New Jersey. The Devils are 10-6-1 after 17 games. They shut out the Penguins, 4-0, on Saturday.

“I think our work ethic has been there, and it’s been nice to be rewarded in some ways,” forward Travis Zajac told the New York Times. “That’s been a positive for us. Because of that work ethic, we’re in games, and we’re winning games.”

Nobody expected much from the Devils in 2015-16. This was supposed to be a transition season, from the Lou Lamoriello era to the Ray Shero one. If there was an expectation, it was to get in the draft lottery and add a much-needed blue-chip prospect, to go with sixth overall pick in 2015, Pavel Zacha.

And that could still be how it goes. The Devils have been winning games, but they’ve been far from dominant overall. Their special teams have been good. So has their goaltending, particularly starter Cory Schneider, who’s 9-4-1 with a .928 save percentage. Mike Cammalleri has 17 points in 17 games. Kyle Palmieri and Lee Stempniak each have 14 points. In one-goal games, the Devils are 7-1-1. All of which is to say, it may not be sustainable.

At the same time, that win over Pittsburgh was sure impressive.

“This was an important game for everyone,” Schneider told the Associated Press. “It’s great when everyone gets involved. It’s a lot of fun.”

The Devils kick off a three-game road trip Tuesday in Calgary.