Well, what a surprise from the Penguins to wake up to this morning.

The news we’ve all been waiting for finally came to fruition during the morning skate ahead of tonight’s matchup with the Washington Capitals.

Finally, the Penguins have signed Chris Kunitz to a two-year contract extension. According to the Penguins website, the deal will go into effect next season and will be worth$3.725 million against the cap each season.

I think it’s a fair price for a player of his stature and what he’s brought to Pittsburgh. It’s what he’s already making anyway, so this is a great deal in my opinion.

Oh, wait a minute, that’s not the biggest news to come out of the morning skate was it?

My apologies.

Evegni Malkin will be a game time decision tonight against the Capitals. The sooner he gets back the better because the power play could really use a shot in the arm.

With Malkin, the Penguins were 4 for 8 through the first two games of the season. Without him, the Penguins are 1 for 12 and have failed to convert 11 straight times with the man advantage.

It shouldn’t come as any surprise though. When he’s on the ice, the defending team gravitates toward him because they have to respect how dangerous he is.

As a result, other guys get more time and space than they would with Malkin on the bench or in the press box.

Anyway, the real news is that the Penguins will be without their number one goaltender tonight.

Marc-Andre Fleury is sick and will not be between the pipes. Brent Johnson will get the nod and will look to help the Penguins stop an ugly 0-6-1 streak against the Capitals on home ice.

It’s never good when an opposing team, especially a rival, feels that comfortable in your own barn.

I expect it to be a hotly contested battle tonight. I’ll be in attendance and here’s a little food for thought:

Not to bring up last season, but the last Penguins game I went to where Johnson started, an opposing goaltender left the building with a broken face.

Will it happen again? Odds are that it won’t, but in a game between bitter rivals, anything is possible right?

Oh, one final note from practice that is of no major significance. (Yes, that’s a joke.)

After months and months of rehabilitation and hard work, Sidney Crosby has been cleared for full contact.

There have been plenty of rumors and speculation about when this next step in his recovery would happen.

At this point it is only just another step.

Being cleared for contact is one thing, but how he responds to the contact is something entirely different.

While this is exciting, we can’t expect him to just take a couple of practices and jump out on the ice for games.

Training camp opened roughly a month ago and it took this long to get cleared for contact. I don’t think it would be unreasonable to think that we could be waiting another month (if not more) for him to receive clearance to suit up for a game.

This process has always been about taking things one step at a time. This is another step, albeit a big one, toward his ultimate goal.

It may seem like Christmas might be coming early for Pens fans, but we need to respect the process and continue to offer support to the Penguins’ captain.

Remember patience is a virtue.

You can follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/CaseySheaPens.

For More Penguins Coverage Check Out Puck Talk With Popchock.


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