David Quinn stayed with the same starting goaltender, Igor Shesterkin, against the Penguins on Sunday night but made two changes in the lineup from Friday’s game, inserting defenseman Brendan Smith for Jack Johnson and activating right wing Colin Blackwell off the practice squad and putting him in for Brendan Lemieux.
Smith played in the second and third games of the season, when Quinn sat out Tony DeAngelo as punishment for a bad penalty he had taken in the season opener against the Islanders. When DeAngelo returned to the lineup Friday, Smith was scratched to make room. It was a combination of Quinn wanting to get Smith (one assist, plus-4 in his two games) back in, as well as being disappointed with Johnson Friday night.
"Jack was solid for us the first few games,’’ Quinn said in his pregame media availability. "I thought he struggled a little bit the other night. Smitty had a real good game [against the Islanders Jan. 16] and then I thought dropped off a little bit the second night [against the Devils Jan. 19]. We have faith in all seven of our guys, and you know, it is going to be that. Guys have to play well to stay in.’’
Quinn said he wanted to get a look at Blackwell, a 5-9, 190-pound right wing who he said had a strong training camp. Blackwell, 27, had been signed as a free agent to be a depth forward. Lemieux, who played well in the Devils game, took a tripping penalty Friday that Quinn said was a bad penalty, so Quinn decided to make the lineup change.
"But listen, [Lemieux's] a big part of what we’ve got going on here, and I know he's going to get back in and do what he's capable of doing,’’ Quinn said.
Grading the goalies
Quinn was asked what he’s thought of the goaltending the team has had from Shesterkin (0-1-1, 2.94 GAA, .899 save percentage) and Alexandar Georgiev (1-1, one shutout, 2.40 GAA, .907 save percentage).
"I think it's been solid,’’ he said. "I think if you talk to both guys, I think they'd like to be a little bit better. So, I mean, you can't really blame Shesty for any of the goals [Friday] night. One of them we put in [ourselves], one got tipped, and one went off the back wall right to the guy in the back door, and we had blown coverage.‘’