Q: What Happens when Fleury returns?
A: Marc Andre-Fleury is set to return sometime in the near future and probably will get a start in these next four games. The big question is, what do we wdo with Conklin and Sabourin? If we send one of them back down to the minors, would they have to clear waivers first?
Conklin was brought up on emergency recall, so that means he can be returned to Wilkes-Barre without having to clear waivers if he is returned the moment Fleury is recalled and activated. There is an expemtion to the emergency call-up. As I understand it (and I could be blatently wrong) - Conklin can stay on the roster despite being an emergency call up only because his contract does not exceed $100,000 in the minors. If we keep Conklin on the roster after Fleury is activated, he would have to clear waivers if he was sent down at a later date.
Sabourin would have to clear waivers if sent back down to the minors. The last time we did that, the Canucks claimed in in 2006. Look for a possible minor trade dealing Sabourin for a prospect.
Q: When do you think Crosby will return?
A: Crosby has ruled out a return tonight against Florida, but if I were a betting man, I'd put his target date for a return on Sunday aginast the Sharks. Crosby has ruled tonight out, and thursday is in Montreal. This would be the next best bet in my mind seeing as he plays well in Montreal. Saturday is out of the question in my mind since it is the first of back to back games. If he were to play Saturday, he would most likely sit out Sunday. If he faces any setbacks this week, the return date will obviously be pushed back into March.
Q: What will the lines look like when Crosby does return?
A: Crosby has been reportedly practicing with Armstrong and Malone. That, given the fact that Talbot was on the first line last game means the lines could look like this:
Malkin, Sykora, Talbot (although I have heard reports of Staal playing this forward spot)
Crosby, Malone, Armstrong
Staal (or Talbot), Kennedy, Ruutu
Smith/Taffe/Beech, James, Laraque
(Christensen will probably take Kennedy's spot when he returns and knock James back to Wilkes-Barre.)
Stat of note: The Pens are currently in 5th place in the Eastern Conference: 2 pts out of the #1 seed but yet only 7 pts out of the playoffs. These next few games will be important especially trying to get Fleury back into his role as #1 goaltender. Also, Malkin is only 1 pt behind Ovechkin and Ovechkin is idle tonight. Look for Malkin to take a brief lead in scoring.
One final comment: I wrote a blog over a week ago calling for Therrien to go (http://www.fannation.com/blogs/post/150595) perhaps I wasn't clear in the blog (which has been one of my most popular - er unpopular) I was saying Therrien needs to go IF the Pens do not make it to the Eastern Conference Finals.