WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — The Moose will have the services of veteran NHL defenceman Sami Salo for tonight’s AHL game against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins but there’s a lot more in play than a $3.5-million defenceman’s conditioning weekend.
Notes from this morning’s game-day skate at Mohegan Sun Arena:
Sami among seven
Wearing No. 22 tonight, the 36-year-old Salo will be among the seven defenceman coach Claude Noel uses for the game (6 p.m. CT, CJOB) against the first-overall Penguins.
This will be Salo’s first action since he suffered a torn Achilles tendon last summer.
"I think he’s a veteran guy who’s knowledgable enough on now to deal with his body and his energy so we’ll let him dictate that (ice time)," Noel said. "The only difference will be special teams — a little different with personnel than he’s familiar with, and skill level he’s familiar with.
"He plays all those heavy minutes in the NHL, I’m sure he can handle some here but we don’t want to burden him, which is why we’ll dress seven."
All-star Sergei is ready
A short call-up to Vancouver prior to the AHL all-star break ended Sergei Shirokov’s Moose record points streak at 12 games.
But Shirokov sounds energized after being plugged into the all-star starting lineup with Alexandre Giroux and Linus Klasen.
"Good bookends, lots of fun and lots of good emotions," Shirokov said this morning. "I scored one goal, which was better than scoring nothing."
For his two off-days after Monday’s game, Shirokov stayed in the east and went to New York.
"Slept to 12 every day I was there," he laughed. "Walked around, went to some Russian restaurants."
The Moose are without several players tonight, including four in Vancouver (Cody Hodgson, Chris Tanev, Lee Sweatt, Aaron Volpatti) and three injured (Joel Perrault, Marco Rosa and Tommy Maxwell).
The 36-12 Pens will be without top prospects Eric Tangradi and Dustin Jeffery, both up with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
"It is (a measuring-stick game) for us, coming over here in the East and playing two good teams," Noel said. "I know they’re minus people, but who’s not missing people? That’s just part of life in the AHL."
Noel said today that his last visit to Mohegan Sun Arena was a happy one, ending the Calder Cup final of 2004 here. "We beat them four straight, which was pretty fortunate," he said. "We had Wade Flaherty in nets, which people in Manitoba are familiar with and he was real good. It’s interesting to sit and see the room and remember what you did.
"I remember when it was over, sitting in the room (across the hall), just relaxing and having a frosty because I was just whipped. The exhilaration was just fabulous."