Ew, whatís that stink? Ah, itís the Penguins and their performance Saturday in Soldier Field against a Blackhawks team which thoroughly dominated play. Pittsburgh struggled offensively and in its own end. The offense likely just had a bad night and can be excused. The defense? Oh, where to start. Ten-plus odd man breaks, a Rob Scuderi and Brooks Orpik pairing slower than Gordie Howe at age 50. The Pens are heading in the wrong direction at the wrong time of the season. They were the rare Eastern Conference team which played the West well, but hold a losing record (3-4-1) against them since the turn of the calendar year.
Matt Niskanen is having a career year, but heís being asked to be a No. 1 defenseman and that just isnít him. He figures to continue producing, as he sees top power-play time, but his defense could fall off as his minutes increase. Rookie Olli Maatta is the teamís second-best blueliner right now, but itís probably just a matter of time before he falls off (mentally, if not physically).
The next couple days will go a long ways toward determining where teams like Pittsburgh slot heading into the postseason. The Pens hold a comfortable double-digit point lead in the Metropolitan, but choppy ice lies ahead in the form of a difficult March schedule.
Projected Goalie Starters (all times Eastern)
For updates on the projected goalies later in the day, check our Projected Goalies Grid
Columbus Blue Jackets (Sergei Bobrovsky) at Toronto Maple Leafs (Jonathan Bernier), 7:00 PM
Buffalo Sabres (Jhonas Enroth) at Dallas Stars (Kari Lehtonen), 8:00 PM
Calgary Flames (Reto Berra) at Minnesota Wild (Darcy Kuemper), 8:00 PM
Montreal Canadiens (Carey Price) at Los Angeles Kings (Jonathan Quick), 10:30 PM
Injury News For Teams Playing Monday
Columbus Blue Jackets
Fedor Tyutin, D - The Blue Jackets placed Tyutin (ankle) on IR on Monday, Shawn Mitchell of the Columbus Dispatch reports. (2/24/2014)
Jared Boll, RW - Boll (ankle) joined the Blue Jackets for practice Sunday, Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch reports. (2/24/2014)
Toronto Maple Leafs
Dave Bolland, C - Bolland (ankle) says that he doesn't feel like he will play Monday, Sportsnet 590's Daveis Alter reports. (3/2/2014)
Colton Orr, RW - Orr (undisclosed) was not on the ice for morning skate and appears safe to rule out for Thursday's game against the Islanders, Mark Masters of TSN reports. (2/27/2014)
Patrick Kaleta, RW - Kaleta suffered a torn right ACL during Friday's game with AHL Rochester, Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News reports. He will miss the rest of the season. (11/30/2013)
Brenden Dillon, D - Dillon (lower-body) was on the ice for the Stars Sunday morning skate, Mark Stepneski of NHL.com reports. (3/2/2014)
Stephane Robidas, D - Robidas is skating and "making improvements." His return is still on schedule for a mid-March return and "could even be bumped up to early March if he continues to make progress," according to Mike Heika of Dallas Morning News. (2/24/2014)
Michael Ferland, LW - Ferland underwent knee surgery Saturday and is expected to miss the rest of the season, Pat Steinberg of Sportsnet 960 The Fan reports. (1/18/2014)
Patrick Sieloff, D - After missing the first half of the season with a staph infection, Sieloff has been cleared for off-ice activities, the Calgary Sun reports. (1/17/2014)
Kevin Westgarth, RW - Westgarth (head) is returning to Calgary to undergo concussion protocol, the Calgary Herald reports. (3/2/2014)
Curtis Glencross, LW - Coach Bob Hartley said Glencross (ankle) is not considered close to a return, Kristen Odland of the Calgary Herald reports. (3/1/2014)
Karri Ramo, G - Ramo (knee) didn't skate over the Olympic break and remains without a timetable for return, the Calgary Herald reports. (2/25/2014)
Brian McGrattan, RW - McGrattan (upper body) will not play Saturday against the Oilers, Pat Steinberg of 960 The FAN reports. (2/28/2014)
Lee Stempniak, RW - Stempniak (personal) plans to return to the team for Monday's game against the Wild, Kristen Odland of the Calgary Herald reports. (3/1/2014)
Marco Scandella, D - Scandella (knee) is doubtful to return for Friday's game against the Canucks, Michael Russo of the Star Tribune reports. (2/28/2014)
Jason Zucker, LW - Zucker (lower body) was placed on injured reserve Wednesday. (2/26/2014)
Brett Bulmer, LW - GM Chuck Fletcher said Bulmer will miss the next 6-to-8 weeks with a sprained ankle and knee, Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. (1/15/2014)
Mikko Koivu, C - Koivu (ankle) was on the ice for practice Sunday and is being considered a game-time decision for Monday, Chad Graff of the Pioneer Press reports. (3/2/2014)
Josh Harding, G - Harding (multiple sclerosis) will not join the Wild's non-Olympian players when they begin practicing again Wednesday, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. (2/18/2014)
Carey Price, G - Price (lower body) will not be available Saturday against the Maple Leafs, but he will travel on the Canadiens' upcoming road trip. (2/28/2014)
Ryan White, RW - White (flu) did not practice Friday, Hockey Inside Out reports. (3/1/2014)
Brandon Prust, LW - Prust (upper body) has been moved to injured reserve. (2/26/2014)
Davis Drewiske, D - Updating a previous report, the Canadiens have officially placed Drewiske (shoulder) on waivers Sunday, TSN's Bob McKenzie reports. (3/2/2014)
Mac Bennett, D - Bennett suffered an upper-body injury in a game against Penn State last week and is listed as week-to-week for Michigan, the Montreal Gazette reports. (3/1/2014)
Michael Bournival, C - Bournival (concussion) will not play Saturday night against Toronto, Hockey Inside Out reports. (3/1/2014)
Dougie Hamilton: Forgotten somewhat after missing time earlier in 2013-14, Hamilton announced his return Sunday with the first three-point game of his fledgling career. Heís taken a back seat to a number of other well-deserving young Bruins, but heís back now and his value is on the rise.
Alex Stalock: The San Jose goalie has three straight wins and is putting a scare in Antti Niemi fantasy owners. Stalock is giving the Sharks consistency where Niemi has not. Every Stalock win is another chink Niemiís armor. Whether the backup is merely nibbling at Finlandís knees or feeding like a group of piranhas remains to be seen. But thereís no denying heís hot right now.
Brad Boyes: The forward is said to be working on a new contract, but he has plenty of playoff-team landing spots which could boost his fantasy value Ė Pittsburgh is one such place. Boyes really canít do much to help turn around the moribund Panthers and they would be wise to cash in Boyesí chips as best as they can before the deadline. Boyes has 63 points in his last 106 games over the past two seasons.
Daniel Sedin: Left the Heritage Classic game with a lower-body injury Sunday. Itís almost surreal that Sedin could go 12 contests with nary a point, but he has and now heís hurt. Fantasy teams that invested heavily in the goal-scoring brother Sedin are likely looking up in their league standings.
Zach Parise: In three seasons from 2006 to 2009, Parise shot at least 12 percent. After blowing out a knee, the forward gallantly returned in 2010-11 and got back into 13 games before seasonís end. Since 2008-09, the well-paid Parise has never touched the 12-percent shooting level. Heís morphing into another type of player, but itís not one that helps fantasy owners as it once did.
Cam Ward: A change of scenery canít hurt him. The one-time Stanley Cup winner hasnít compiled a goals-against average under 3.00 in any of his last 10 appearances. He allowed five goals on 34 shots Sunday to Anaheim and just canít seem to find his game. Itís hard to believe that the forever-young Ward turned 30 years of age last week. A trade might be exactly what Ward needs to turn his career around.
Braden Holtby: If and only if the ďwinsĒ category is a primary factor in the decision-making category should Holtby be considered. That said, unless the Capitals trade for a tender before Wednesdayís deadline then Holtby is in line for a bunch of stretch-drive victories. There are more rational pickups available, but Holtby is due for a hot streak and won six of seven decisions before Sunday.