By: Casey Shea

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The Pittsburgh Penguins are gearing up for the stretch run to the playoffs and the trade deadline is just around the corner.

There are several questions surrounding the Penguins as Monday’s trade deadline draws closer.

Will the Penguins pick up another gritty forward? Are they confident Brent Johnson is still the right guy to play backup to Marc-Andre Fleury?

On Sunday, Johnson allowed three goals on 12 shots during a 6-2 loss to the Buffalo Sabres. It was the third time in his last five starts that he was pulled.

Part of the problem could be the lack of work he has seen this season. Despite all that, Johnson understands his role and how to deal with it.

“It’s been tough. I want to contribute, help my teammates win. The last three out of the last six that I’ve played haven’t been what I wanted, but it’s not for a lack of trying. I feel confident. Every game I go into, I feel fine. Just haven’t been getting the results I want. It’s tough. I want to do so much for these guys,” Johnson said.

One thing is certain with the Penguins, James Neal will be around for the foreseeable future.

The Penguins signed Neal to a six-year $30 million extension over the weekend. The decision for Neal to stay in Pittsburgh was an easy one.

“Even though things didn’t work out the way I wanted them to last year, it’s just the way we play hockey here, the atmosphere. Everything that goes along with Penguins hockey is awesome. Like I keep saying, I just couldn’t have found a better place and a better fit,” Neal said.

Pittsburgh is currently sitting in sixth place in the Eastern Conference. They are tied with the Philadelphia Flyers and trail the New Jersey Devils by a single point.

The Penguins will look to move up the standing tonight when they play host to the first place New York Rangers.

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