Youngsters get call in Pens-Flyers opener

PITTSBURGH -- Opening night in Pittsburgh will be disappointing for new Penguin Arron Asham, who was placed on injured reserve Thursday and will not get a chance to face his old teammates from Philadelphia.

Asham's upper-body injury did, however, open the door for rookie Eric Tangradi to join the Pens' opening-night lineup.

It turned out to be a chaotic few hours for the Philadelphia-area native as he was notified at 6 p.m. on Wednesday he was being sent down to Wheeling of the ECHL. He drove the 45 minutes or so to Wheeling, checked into a Holiday Inn and had to tell the bad news to family and friends planning on making the trip from Philadelphia for the game. Then, he got a call early Thursday morning that he'd been recalled and he was on the road and back in Pittsburgh for the morning skate.

"I actually had the intentions of practicing in Wheeling this morning," said Tangradi, who was playing with Evgeni Malkin and Mike Comrie in the preseason. "I didn't know too much else of anything. It was kind of a lot of confusion going on amongst family and friends. Like I said, I didn't really know the situation, either."

But he did manage to alert family and friends of the latest developments and they were expected to make it in time for Thursday's game.

"I'm happy to be here. It's going to be an exciting night," the big winger said. "Family's on their way right now. They're coming in all the way from Philly, shoot up the turnpike today. Hopefully the drive's not too bad for them."

Other pregame notes

• Defenseman Kris Letang did not skate Thursday morning and Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said he's been under the weather. He will be a game-time decision.

• Philadelphia coach Peter Laviolette has made a surprise decision to start rookie netminder Sergei Bobrovsky on Thursday night. Most had expected veteran Brian Boucher to get the nod. But Laviolette said he's been impressed by the 22-year-old native of Novokuznetsk, Russia, and opted to give him his first NHL regular-season start.

"It's not just based on a day or two. From the time he's been here, he's been sharp, every game, every situation, every practice, every scrimmage. He's looked really good," Laviolette said.

Boucher said he was "a little shocked" by Laviolette's decision and could understand it if he'd had a bad camp, but that wasn't the case. "It doesn't effect the way I think about myself at all," Boucher said.

Laviolette said Boucher has played well and he'll get his chance.

"It's nice to have two goaltenders," Laviolette said. "You'll see both goaltenders early in the season, but we had to have a starting point somewhere, and I really liked the way he's put together a body of work for the last month."