On Saturday morning, Penguins coach Dan Bylsma put the rumor-mongering to rest with some candor that is unusual when dealing with postseason injuries.
"It is not an Achilles' (injury) and he is not ruled out for the remainder of the playoffs," Bylsma said after Saturday's skate. "He had a procedure to repair a tendon from a cut on the top of his foot and he will be day-to-day from here on out. So, it is not an out for the remainder of the playoffs."
Surely, the fact that Staal could make a return at some point this season is good news -- and far better than the alternative. But, it is virtually impossible that he will play in Sunday afternoon's Game 2 (2 p.m., NBC, CBC, RDS), so Pittsburgh will have to make some lineup changes.
Judging from Saturday's brisk 45-minute practice, it appears that Maxime Talbot is the most likely candidate to step into the gaping void left by Staal's absence. Talbot saw some time as third-line center in the third period of Friday night's Game 1, a 6-3 victory for the Penguins. Craig Adams, usually the fourth-line center, also saw some time as the third-line pivot and scored a key second-period goal in that very role.
Saturday, Bylsma also threw minor-league call-up Mark Letestu into that mix.
"I would say if Jordan is not able to play, we would look to Max Talbot and Mark Letestu, a guy that played 10 games for us and was good; a right hand shot and played real responsible," Bylsma said.
"It is not an Achilles' (injury) and he is not ruled out for the remainder of the playoffs. He had a procedure to repair a tendon from a cut on the top of his foot and he will be day-to-day from here on out. So, it is not an out for the remainder of the playoffs." -- Pens coach Dan Bylsma on Jordan StaalBylsma also may have more forward options at his disposal, as winger Tyler Kennedy is rounding back into form after battling back from a leg injury suffered in the Ottawa series.
"I feel pretty comfortable, but I'm up to the challenge," said Kennedy, who will be a game-time decision. "Getting back in game shape is a big thing for me. I've only skated for four days now. We'll see how I feel tomorrow.
Pittsburgh is also close to getting back defenseman Jordan Leopold, who has been out with a concussion since Game 2 of the Ottawa series. Saturday marked the first time Leopold has taken part in practice without having to don a non-contact jersey.
Bylsma said that Leopold would be a game-time decision for Game 2, but it is more likely that Pittsburgh will want the defenseman to get a few practices in before returning, especially as replacement Jay McKee has been reliable in his stead.