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Posted On Tuesday, 12.20.2011 / 1:30 PM

By Alan Robinson -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

No concussion, Seabrook in Blackhawks' lineup

PITTSBURGH -- Exactly the news the Chicago Blackhawks wanted to hear: Defenseman Brent Seabrook doesn't have a concussion and will be in the lineup Tuesday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
 
The sighs of relief probably could be heard all the way back to the United Center.
 
The Blackhawks (21-8-4) received a major scare Sunday when the Flames' Rene Bourque drove Seabrook in the boards head-first during the first period of Chicago's 4-2 victory. Seabrook appeared to be unconscious for a few moments, but he insisted on Tuesday that he was aware throughout of what was occurring.
 
"I remember the whole thing," Seabrook said. "I got hit and I heard Bourque say right away he was sorry. I couldn't get up, so I put my head down and everybody seemed to think I was knocked out. I'm good to go."
 
Coach Joel Quenneville said Seabrook checked out fine and will not be held out of game action, saying it was "an easy call" -- even though Seabrook has had multiple concussions in the past.
 
Seabrook did not return to the Calgary game because the doctor checking him for concussion-like symptoms could not tell from the game video whether he was unconscious.
 
"Obviously, it feels good that all it was a scare," Seabrook said. "I felt good yesterday, felt good the day before, I feel fine."
 
Blackhawks forward Daniel Carcillo (upper-body injury) did not make the trip to Pittsburgh, but Quenneville is optimistic he will be ready to play Wednesday at home against Montreal -- the team's final game before Christmas.
 
Forward Patrick Kane likes going against teams such as the Penguins that the Blackhawks see only occasionally.
 
"It's always fun to play Eastern Conference teams, usually they (play) up and down, fast, and we like playing in that kind of game," Kane said.
 
The teams possess some of the NHL's top star power, except that the biggest headliner -- Sidney Crosby -- will miss a fifth consecutive game with concussion-like symptoms. Crosby has played only two games against Chicago during his career.
 
"I've been here five years and I've never played him in the NHL, only in the Olympics," Kane said. "We haven't seen him, but hopefully he's doing better."
 
Here is the Blackhawks' projected lineup for their only matchup against the Penguins (18-11-4) this season. Pittsburgh won the Stanley Cup in 2009, while Chicago won it the following season.
 
Viktor Stalberg - Jonathan Toews - Patrick Kane
Patrick Sharp - Marcus Kruger - Marian Hossa
Bryan Bickell - Dave Bolland - Michael Frolik
John Scott - Jamal Mayers - Andrew Brunette
 
Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook
Nick Leddy - Niklas Hjalmarsson
Sean O'Donnell - Steve Montador
 
Ray Emery (9-1-2) will make his seventh consecutive start in net -- he has won his last five -- but Quenneville said Corey Crawford (12-7-2) is expected to start Wednesday.
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.20.2011 / 1:04 PM

By Alan Robinson -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Staal, others could be back for Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Penguins held an optional morning practice – coach Dan Bylsma called it a “get what you need skate” – before they matched up against the Western Conference-leading Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday night at Consol Energy Center.
 
This was the fourth time this season that the Penguins did not hold a full team skate on a game day that followed an off day, but the players met to review video and the scouting report.
 
The Penguins often are held up as the standard by which opposing clubs measure themselves – several coaches have mentioned that during visits to Pittsburgh – but this time they will be looking up, at least in the overall standings.
 
Chicago goes into the game with an NHL-leading 46 points, while the Penguins – winners of only two of their last six – have dropped into fifth place in the Eastern Conference with 40 points.
 
“They’ve got a lot of skill up front, world-class skill,” forward Craig Adams said of the Blackhawks, who have won five straight and seven of eight, collecting points in all eight. “They’ve got a couple of the best defensemen in the League back there and they’ve been getting good goaltending lately (from Ray Emery). Their power play is very good. Offensively, they present problems for sure.”
 
Penguins captain Sidney Crosby was at Consol, but was not one of the 16 players who skated. The Penguins have not updated his status since he last practiced Dec. 7; he remains out and day-to-day with concussion-like symptoms. Crosby will miss his 26th game this season and his 67th over the last two seasons.
 
The players skating were goalies Marc-Andre Fleury, who will start, and Brent Johnson; forwards Tyler Kennedy, Jason Williams, Steve MacIntyre, Jordan Staal, Eric Tangradi, Craig Adams and Joe Vitale; and defensemen Deryk Engelland, Brooks Orpik, Alexandre Picard, Ben Lovejoy, Matt Niskanen, Simon Despres and Zbynek Michalek.
 
The Penguins are expected to welcome back Staal, who has been held out of three of their last four games with a lower-body injury. Among the players who are game-time decisions are defensemen Zbynek Michalek (concussion) and Ben Lovejoy, who has been out with a broken wrist since Nov. 3 but is lobbying to play. Defenseman Paul Martin (lower-body injury) is not expected to play and could be out for a while.
 
“Today was a really good day. Everything felt really good. I should be in tonight if coach wants it,” Stall said before pausing for a smile. “We’ll see if I get in.”
 
Here’s how the Penguins might line up in their only meeting against Chicago this season, but the lineup could change depending on how many of the injured players return:
 
Chris KunitzEvgeni MalkinJames Neal
Matt CookeJordan StaalTyler Kennedy
Steve SullivanJoe VitaleArron Asham
Jason WilliamsEric TangradiCraig Adams
 
Brooks OrpikMatt Niskanen
Zbynek MichalekDeryk Engelland
Simon DespresBen Lovejoy
 
Marc-Andre Fleury
Brent Johnson
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Posted On Saturday, 12.17.2011 / 4:16 PM

By Alan Robinson -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Penguins struggling without Crosby, others

PITTSBURGH – The Pittsburgh Penguins may be feeling the Crosby Effect.
 
For the first time all season, the Penguins aren't looking like the team that has been remarkably resilient and successful without Sidney Crosby in their lineup during most of calendar year 2011. With injuries also recently to players such as defensemen Kris Letang and Zbynek Michalek and center Jordan Staal, the Penguins were 1-4-0 in their last five games going into a Saturday night game against Buffalo.
 
The Penguins haven't dropped as many as five games in a six-game span without any overtime or shootout defeats since they lost six of seven from Dec. 21, 2009 through Jan. 3, 2010.
 
The injury situation didn’t improve against the Sabres. Defenseman Paul Martin was ruled out because of an unspecified lower body injury that occurred during a 6-4 loss in Ottawa on Friday.
 
The Martin injury meant the Penguins were likely to be without three of their top four defensemen -- Letang, Michalek and Martin -- against Buffalo, which won in Pittsburgh 3-2 on Oct. 15. Only Brooks Orpik was certain to be in the lineup. This will be the first game Martin has missed this season.
 
“It’s day to day (for Martin) at this point in time,” coach Dan Bylsma said.
 
Due to the injuries, the Penguins recalled forward Jason Williams and defenseman Carl Sneep to oppose Buffalo. Williams was recalled several times previously this season, but the 24-year-oid Sneep will be making his NHL debut. A second-round pick in 2006, he had nine assists and a plus-6 rating in 27 games at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (NHL), which plays the same system as the parent Penguins.
 
“Carl, making his first NHL appearance, his first NHL game, there’s a certain amount of anxiety and nerves that go along with that,” Bylsma said. “But I do think he has gained some confidence knowing exactly what is expected of (him) and exactly what to do on the ice. Everything he hears today won’t be new for Carl.”
 
Pittsburgh has recalled four players from Wilkes-Barre in the last two days; Williams, Sneep, forward Eric Tangradi and defenseman Alexandre Picard.
 
What is complicating the Penguins' injury situation is that Crosby, Letang and Michalek all have a concussion or concussion-related symptoms, which means it is uncertain when they can return.
 
Michalek, for example, looked to be ready to play against Ottawa on Friday night, only to report that he was still being bothered by headaches.
 
"You don't know if a guy is going to be one week, two weeks or out longer," Bylsma said. "That uncertainty makes it tough to plan in terms of down the road. You have an injury that typically takes two or three weeks and a timeframe that you know, and you can plan for the month of December to be without a guy with a broken foot. You know that. The uncertainty is difficult."
 
Crosby, for example, initially skipped games against the Flyers and Islanders last week for precautionary reasons -- he was experiencing headaches -- but he has not practiced or played since. The Penguins are dropping no hints when he might return.
 
Bylsma said Saturday that neither Crosby nor Letang (out since Nov. 26) has resumed skating.
 
Crosby has played in only eight games of 73 games over the last 50 weeks. The Penguins are 35-22-8 without him over the last two seasons, but are a not-as-good 12-9-3 this season. And they are 7-8-1 since they beat Dallas 3-1 on Nov. 11, a period that includes their 5-2-1 record with Crosby in the lineup; they have lost six of their last eight without him.
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Posted On Saturday, 12.17.2011 / 3:24 PM

By Alan Robinson -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Reeling Penguins hope to rebound against Sabres

PITTSBURGH-- This is becoming uncomfortably familiar for the Pittsburgh Penguins – another game, another loss, another injury.
 
Neither the Penguins nor the Sabres held a formal morning skate in advance of their Saturday night game after each played Friday. But while the Sabres were beating the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-4 thanks to Thomas Vanek's two goals, the Penguins were giving up five goals in the second period of a 6-4 loss at Ottawa.
 
The defeat was Pittsburgh's fourth in five games and dropped them to 1-3 during Sidney Crosby's second concussion-related layoff of the season. And it's not just Crosby's injury that is affecting the Penguins, who have dropped from first place to fifth place in the Eastern Conference standings during the last two weeks.
 
They also played Friday without defensemen Kris Letang and Zbynek Michalek (concussions), two-way forward Jordan Staal (lower-body injury), center Richard Park (broken foot). And it got worse -- defenseman Paul Martin, who has upgraded his play in recent weeks following a slow start, left in the third period with an unspecified lower-body injury.
 
Coach Dan Bylsma planned to announce shortly before game time if any of the injured players could return against the Sabres, who won in Pittsburgh 3-2 on Oct. 15 after being swept in the four-game series last season.  Michalek appears to be the closest to returning, but he has been bothered this week by headaches related to his concussion.
 
Evgeni Malkin has three goals and four assists in his last four games, including a goal and an assist on Friday.
 
If Martin can play, and the Penguins did not recall anyone to replace him, here's how Pittsburgh's lineup could look in the first of consecutive home games. They remain home to play the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday. Pittsburgh has dropped its last two at home to Boston (3-1) and Detroit 4-1).
 
Chris Kunitz - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal
Steve Sullivan - Joe Vitale - Arron Asham
Matt Cooke - Pascal Dupuis - Tyler Kennedy
Steve MacIntyre - Eric Tangradi - Craig Adams
 
Brooks Orpik - Matt Niskanen
Paul Martin - Deryk Engelland
Simon Despres - Alexandre Picard
 
Marc-Andre Fleury will be in net after his scheduled day off Friday was shortened by Bylsma's decision to play him in the third period, when he allowed a goal. Brent Johnson gave up all five Senators goals in the second period. Fleury is 4-1-0 in his last five starts against the Sabres.
 
The Sabres, also troubled by injuries during a recent stretch in which they have gone 6-7-3, held a team meeting at their hotel Saturday morning in lieu of a full-team morning skate. There is a chance that right wing Patrick Kaleta could return from a groin injury that has kept him out of 10 of the last 11 games. Their likely lineup:
 
Thomas Vanek - Paul Szczechura - Jason Pominville
Tyler Ennis - Derek Roy - Drew Stafford
Matt Ellis - Luke Adam - Zack Kassian
Marc-Andre Gragnini - Paul Gaustad - Cody McCormick
 
Christian Ehrhoff - Jordan Leopold
Robyn Regehr - Andrej Sekera
Brayden McNabb - Mike Weber
 
Ryan Miller is expected to be in goal after stopping 29 shots against Toronto; Miller is 3-0-2 with a 2.95 goals-against average since he was out for eight games with a concussion. Miller is 0-4-1 in his last six starts against Pittsburgh.  Jhonas Enroth won in Pittsburgh two months ago but is 1-5-1 in his last seven starts.
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.13.2011 / 1:34 PM

By Alan Robinson -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Babcock's influence evident in Bylsma's coaching

PITTSBURGH -- Dan Bylsma, last season's winner of the Jack Adams Award -- presented annually to the NHL's coach of the year -- is more than a distant admirer of Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock.
 
The Pittsburgh Penguins coach, a former NHL forward, played for Babcock when the Anaheim Ducks lost to the New Jersey Devils in the 2003 Stanley Cup Final.
 
Bylsma was raised in Grand Rapids, Mich., and he has watched the Red Wings since he was a youngster. Not surprisingly, Bylsma tries to incorporate a great deal of what the Red Wings do well -- see Puck Management 101 -- into the Penguins' system.
 
Call it the Red Wings influence.
 
"They're a team, whether because I grew up in Michigan and being a Red Wings fan, or because they're an elite team, a better team -- they certainly have been playing that way -- we've watched a lot," Bylsma said. "I try to learn something from everybody and I learned a lot from Mike Babcock as a coach."
 
Bylsma added, "(I'm) still watching their team, watching what they do to see if there's not something there. You can hear Mike's voice through a lot of that."
 
And see a lot of that in the Penguins, who beat the Red Wings in a memorable seven-game Stanley Cup Final in 2009, only a few months after Bylsma was hired at midseason to replace Michel Therrien.
 
The Penguins accumulated 106 points last season despite being without stars Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal for about a half a season each due to injuries. This season, Crosby has played in only eight games, yet the Penguins went into their game against Detroit on Tuesday night with a 17-9-4 record and 38 points.
 
Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall credits that to Bylsma's organizational and improvisational skills and his ability to get the maximum effort and production from all players in the lineup.
 
As Kronwall said, the Penguins don't "live or die with one guy. It's pretty remarkable."
 
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.13.2011 / 1:17 PM

By Alan Robinson -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

No changes for surging Red Wings

PITTSBURGH — The Detroit Red Wings don’t plan any lineup changes for their game Tuesday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Consol Energy Center, and who can blame them for not messing with success?
 
The Red Wings go into their only meeting of the season against Pittsburgh with nine victories in 11 games and 13 in 17. They have outscored their opponents 65-33 in the past 17 contests. Detroit was 5-5-1 going into its 5-0 win against Anaheim on Nov. 5, but now is 18-9-1.
 
The Red Wings – 6-7 away from Joe Louis Arena – would appear to be catching the Penguins at an opportune time. Pittsburgh will be missing star Sidney Crosby (concussion-related symptoms) for a third consecutive game, and centers Jordan Staal (lower body injury) and Evgeni Malkin (undisclosed problem) will be game-time decisions.
 
The Penguins already were without defensemen Kris Letang, Zbynek Michalek  and Robert Bortuzzo (concussions) and Ben Lovejoy (wrist), plus forward Richard Park (broken foot).
 
Only 10 days ago, the Penguins were putting a close-to-healthy lineup on the ice for the first time this season – even if it was missing Letang, one of the NHL’s premier offensive defensemen. Now, they are as depleted as they have been since coach Dan Bylsma was hired nearly three years ago.
 
“Obviously, we’d like Sid to be playing,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “As a League, you want him to be playing. When you’re playing another team, you want their best goalie, you want their best players. You want to find out if you’re any good or not.  But, in saying that, you also want points.”
 
Pittsburgh has won its last two at home against the Red Wings and swept a two-game season series against them in 2010-11. This is the first season since 2007-08 the teams won’t play each other at least twice; they met in the Stanley Cup Final in 2008 and 2009, with each franchise winning once.
 
“it’s one of those teams that you love to play against,” Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “It’s a great matchup. The games are high intensity.”
 
Here is the Red Wings’ likely lineup:
 
Johan FranzenPavel DatsyukTodd Bertuzzi
Valtteri FilppulaHenrik ZetterbergJiri Hudler
Darren HelmDanny ClearyChris Conner
Drew MillerJustin AbdelkaderTomas Holmstrom
 
Nicklas LidstromIan White
Niklas KronwallJonathan Ericsson
Brad StuartJakub Kindl
 
Jimmy Howard (17-6-1) will oppose Marc-Andre Fleury (15-6-2) in net. Former Penguins goalie Ty Conklin will be the backup.
 
Howard is 1-0-1 with a 2.28 goals-against average in three career starts against Pittsburgh. Fleury is 4-4 with a 2.72 goals-against average in regular-season matchups against the Red Wings.
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.13.2011 / 12:14 PM

By Alan Robinson -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Malkin, Staal uncertain for depleted Penguins

PITTSBURGH -- Evgeni Malkin has become an unexpected addition to the Pittsburgh Penguins' ever-growing injury list that, once again, is headed by star Sidney Crosby.
 
Malkin, who missed seven games earlier this season following right knee surgery, missed the morning skate in advance of Tuesday night's interconference game against the Detroit Red Wings. Coach Dan Bylsma didn't offer an explanation, and said Malkin would be a game-time decision.
 
Malkin practiced Monday with no apparent problems. Jordan Staal, the Penguins' all-important No. 3 center, missed that practice with an unspecified lower-body injury but took part in the morning skate.
 
Staal, who did not play in a 6-3 win over the Islanders on Saturday, will be a game-time decision. He wants to see how his undisclosed injury reacts the rest of the day.
 
"It felt good but, again, I want to see how it feels once I'm out of the skates and off the ice for a bit and if it starts to flare up," Staal said.
 
With Crosby out again with concussion-related symptoms, there is a possibility the Penguins could be without all three of their star centers against the Red Wings. If that is the case, Bylsma said Joe Vitale, who alternates at fourth-line center with Richard Park, or Pascal Dupuis will center the top line.
 
"It's going to be a different story, or difficult, if Staal and Malkin don't play and Joe Vitale or Pascal Dupuis is our No. 1 center," Bylsma said.
 
Park is out for a month to six weeks with a broken foot.
 
Dupuis had never played center before filling in there against the Islanders.
 
"There have been some challenges there," Bylsma said. "Now Pascal Dupuis going to be part of the Big 3 (the Penguins' centers). We'll probably keep him with (Matt) Cooke and (Tyler) Kennedy to add some stability there, some defensive play. Then we'll see how the rest of it plays out come game time with our matchups."
 
Bylsma had no report on Crosby, who will miss his third consecutive game after developing headaches following a 3-1 loss to the Bruins on Dec. 5. Crosby said Monday he has been bothered by recurring symptoms -- mostly, headaches -- since last week.
 
After missing 61 games dating to last season, including the entire second half in 2010-11, Crosby returned to accumulate 2 goals and 10 assists in eight games before the concussion symptoms re-emerged.
 
"I don't have any update or anything on Sidney," Bylsma said.
 
With so much uncertainty, the Penguins (17-9-4) recalled forward Jason Williams from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL) for the second time in a week.
 
Defenseman Zbynek Michalek (concussion), who hasn't played since Nov. 26, returned to practice Monday but will not play against Detroit.
 
Here's what the Pens' lines could look like against the Red Wings (18-9-1), who beat them in the 2008 Stanley Cup Final before losing in a rematch a year later:
 
PENGUINS
Chris Kunitz - Jordan Staal - James Neal
Matt Cooke - Pascal Dupuis - Tyler Kennedy
Steve Sullivan - Joe Vitale - Arron Asham
Steve MacIntyre - Craig Adams - Jason Williams
 
Paul Martin - Brooks Orpik
Deryk Engelland - Matt Niskanen
Simon Despres - Alexandre Picard
 
Marc-Andre Fleury, whose spectacular play in net sealed the Penguins’ 2-1 victory in Game 7 in Detroit, will be the goaltender. Brent Johnson serves as backup.
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Posted On Monday, 12.05.2011 / 3:13 PM

By Alan Robinson -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Flexibility keeps Julien going strong

PITTSBURGH -- As the saying goes, change is inevitable. To Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien, change is a necessity.
 
The Stanley Cup-winning coach said the NHL's ever-shifting game demands coaches adjust with the times, and sometimes quickly. Just as coaches expect players to improve with age and experience, Julien said coaches should expect the same of themselves.
 
To Julien, it's change or else.
 
"I don't think I'd be around, to be honest with you, if I coached the same way I did in Montreal (from 2003-06)," Julien said before the Bruins took on Eastern Conference-leading Pittsburgh on Monday. "The game has changed. There's been a lockout (in 2004-05), the red line was taken out, the (goalie) trapezoid (was adopted) -- all kinds of things have been added to this game."
 
Some of them are being added by the day; it's not unusual for an opponent to make noticeable changes from one meeting to the next.
 
"Even how you attack today and how teams are defending in their end (are changing)," Julien said. "There's the overload now to one side. Every year, I think you have to adapt and make some changes and tweaks here and there. You expect your players to continue to improve as they get experience and they move along, and the same has to be said about coaches. You just can't sit there and say, 'I'm going to coach the same way I did 10 years ago," because you’re not going to survive."
 
The Penguins are an example.
 
Last season, for all of their offensive talent, the Penguins' power play ranked 25th in the League. After being altered greatly -- rather than remaining in stationary positions, the attackers now rotate spots during a shift -- the Penguins' power play has climbed to 12th this season. And that's without star center Sidney Crosby playing during the first two months of the season.
 
To Julien, keeping up with the times -- and the rest of the League -- demands flexibility and adaptability, plus strong leadership from coaches and players alike.
 
"In coaching, you're as good as the people who surround you," said Julien, who previously coached Montreal and New Jersey. "Coaches who want to take credit by themselves are fools. I think players are the same way. Zdeno (Chara, Boston captain) is going to say the same thing; he really respects the people around him and who help him with that leadership."
 
Julien added, "There's no doubt he is a strong leader, but you certainly need support in today's game, whether it's the schedule or the travel, all the internal stuff that goes on. A lot more than ever before. It's important to have a solid core group."
 
The Bruins, at least offensively, would appear to be one of the NHL's most-changed teams. Only two seasons after ranking 30th in scoring at 2.39 goals per game, the Bruins went into Monday's games ranked second at 3.42, trailing only Philadelphia (3.52). They were fifth last season.
 
However, Julien insists he did not overhaul the Bruins' offensive system or demand a dramatic change in style from his players.
 
"I don’t know that we ever felt -- and although the fans might (disagree) -- that we were a team that wanted to sit back. We wanted to play solid defensively so we could get the puck back quicker," Julien said. "Offensively we may not have always had that same depth we have right now … some of the players who we have around now were young players, and they've grown their roles and that has allowed the team to be better offensively."
 
The Bruins also benefitted from the addition of rookie forward Tyler Seguin, who has a team-leading 12 goals. Still, despite their No. 2 ranking in scoring, only Seguin rankings the top 10 in the League in goals, assists or points -- he's tied for 10th in goals.
 
It’s the plus/minus ranking, however, where the Bruins stand out. The NHL's top five spots are filled by Bruins: Seguin (plus-20), Chara (plus-18), Chris Kelly (plus-16), Brad Marchand (plus-16) and Patrice Bergeron (plus-15).
 
Those numbers best explain how Boston is 13-0-1 in its last 14 games.
 
"We are better offensively, but not because we've changed a lot," Julien said. "Our personnel has grown, we've made a couple of tweaks here and there with trades. That has allowed us maybe to be better in finishing and scoring some goals."
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Posted On Monday, 12.05.2011 / 2:30 PM

By Alan Robinson -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Penguins' Letang diagnosed with concussion

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang has been diagnosed with a concussion that occurred during the Nov. 26 game in Montreal in which he also broke his nose but returned to score the game-winning goal in overtime.
 
The injuries occurred when Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty delivered a hard hit on Letang as the defenseman was winding up to take a shot during the third period. Letang did not see Pacioretty skating hard toward him.
 
Letang went to the dressing room and was examined by at least one doctor, but subsequently returned to score in overtime as Pittsburgh rallied from a 3-1 deficit to win 4-3. Pacioretty was not penalized at the time, but later received a three-game suspension because he made Letang’s head the principal point of contact.
 
Letang has not played since, and coach Dan Bylsma confirmed Monday that Letang and defenseman Zbynek Michalek have been diagnosed with concussions. Michalek also hasn't played since the Montreal game.
 
Bylsma defended the decision to allow Letang to return to the game, saying the team followed NHL protocol and had Letang fully checked medically away from the ice.
 
"Dr. (David) Mulder, I think he has the longest tenure in the League, he's well-respected, went and saw Kris and at that time," Bylsma said. "Kris didn’t have any issues other than they rearranged his nose. He was fine and ready to go back on the ice. Dr. Mulder went through the series of steps in that to clear him to go back on."
 
Bylsma emphasized the Penguins' training staff did not play a role in the decision.
 
Letang and Michalek now join team captain Sidney Crosby, Arron AshamEric Tangradi and Tyler Kennedy among the Penguins who have sustained concussions during the past two seasons.
 
Letang and Michalek will be out until they have passed their post-concussion tests and have been cleared by team doctors.
 
Despite missing five games this season, Letang remains among the NHL's defensemen scoring leaders with 3 goals and 16 assists in 22 games.
 
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Posted On Monday, 12.05.2011 / 1:32 PM

By Alan Robinson -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Incident leads Jordan Staal to consider visor use

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins center Jordan Staal may have seen the light when it comes to wearing a protective visor.

Staal normally doesn't wear a visor, but he had one during the morning skate in advance of the Penguins' game against the Boston Bruins on Monday night. And the change may not be temporary.

Staal received an estimated seven to eight stitches under his left eye -- and a major scare -- when an attempted pass by Carolina's Tomas Kaberle deflected off Staal's stick, causing the puck to strike him flush in the face Saturday night. Staal, who was bleeding, left the ice following the third-period mishap and did not return to a game the Penguins held on to win 3-2.

Staal acknowledged the injury could have been much worse. He was fortunate that he saw what was happening and was aware the puck was traveling at a high rate of speed toward his eye.

"I was worried about getting (my eye) closed," Staal said. "Right away, I knew it was close. It's never a fun thing when it happens. It was unfortunate. I'm glad nothing worse came of it."

Staal planned to wear the visor Monday night and is weighing whether to keep one on his helmet fulltime.

"A lot of guys wear them. It's not a huge issue," Staal said. "I've just been used to having without, but maybe I'll get used to having one."
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Quote of the Day

I think Loui Eriksson is a player that can be even better than he was last year. I think we started seeing that at the end of the year, and he could be a replacement for Jarome as a possibility.

— Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien on forward Loui Eriksson's potential