-We've tweeted the photo of Penguins right winger Pascal Dupuis to the right yesterday. It's one of our favorite moments from the 2012 NHL lockout.
-During the lockout, several Penguins players had organized informal workouts at the the team's practice facility in Southpointe. Dupuis was part of a crew of regulars who participated. These weren't games of shinny. These were legitimate workouts. The players had organized drills which had a purpose and they pushed each other physically for over an hour or two most days. Whenever the lockout came to an end, these Penguins players would be ready to play.
-After yet another breakdown in negotiations and another round of canceled games, enthusiasm for these workouts waned. One day in November, as reporters arrived to practice, there were two "new" players skating around taking shots on net. In reality, it was goaltenders Marc-Andre Fleury and Brent Johnson who were skating like "normal" players (as opposed to goaltenders). But who was in net?
-After practice came to a conclusion, the mystery was solved. Dupuis and defenseman Matt Niskanen decided to don Fleury's and Johnson's gear respectively as a way to mix things up and keep the practices interesting during a bleak time. Niskanen explained it to us last year:
"I think it was right after one of the deadlines was missed or whatever so we for sure weren't playing [games] for a little while. And I think the goalies were not that thrilled - nobody really - about going out there [for practice] again. But as long as we were at the rink we thought we'd make it more of a fun day. I think 'Duper' offered so I just jumped in there as well. We pretty much volunteered."
-The lockout wasn't good for just about anyone involved. It was a very uncertain time for a lot of people and there never seemed to be an end in sight. But without public relations staffers and team employees acting as a barrier (team employees weren't allowed to interact with players during the lockout), a reporter could actually have a conversation with these players. Not a reporter-subject conversation. A human-human conversation.
Pascal Dupuis was a big part of what made that shaky time an enjoyable time.
-We were looking up some Pascal Dupuis highlights yesterday on YouTube and were reminded that he scored in his first game with the Penguins, a 5-1 road loss to the Bruins Feb. 28, 2008. Dupuis scored off a cycle with centers Tyler Kennedy and Jeff Taffe:
-Dupuis' considerable qualities off the ice noted, he'll be missed on the ice as well, particularly on the penalty kill. He averaged 2:25 of short-handed ice time, fourth most among forwards on the team.
-Right winger Daniel Sprong will return to the lineup with Dupuis sidelined. Frankly, if the team wasn't on the western half of the continent, we could see someone like center Kevin Porter being recalled to play instead of Sprong. Mike Johnston just doesn't have trust in him.
-Johnson isn't the first coach to be hesitant in trusting a rookie or a young player. Chicago's Joel Quenneville had some tough love with left winger Brandon Saad early in his career. Rangers center J.T. Miller got some gruff treatement from coach Alain Vigneault. Rightly or wrongly, Sprong isn't the first young player who has struggled to earn his coach's trust.
-EN Reader Eduardo Perez is in Denver and sent in a few pregame photos. The ice: