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Heat is on Penguins during opening road trip

Saturday, 10.08.2011 / 3:15 PM / NHL Insider

By Aaron Vickers - NHL.com Correspondent

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Heat is on Penguins during opening road trip
Some players faced cramping issues in Thursday's opener against the Canucks, most notably center Jordan Staal, but the team still pulled out a victory.
CALGARY -- The Pittsburgh Penguins opened the 2011-12 season Thursday with a victory over the Vancouver Canucks, the kind of start the club was hoping for.

It might've been a little too hot for their liking, though.

Center Jordan Staal was forced to leave in the third period of the 4-3 shootout victory over the Canucks with cramping and dehydration. Already without Sidney Crosby, the loss of Staal could have left the Penguins short down the middle for tonight's game against the Calgary Flames.

Given a maintenance day off Friday, though, Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma said the status of Staal was never in doubt.

"Never had it like that before and hopefully it won't happen again. It was just a hot building, I guess. I got a lot of cramps and the legs started seizing up on me. Tried a couple shifts and could barely make it through. I'll drink a little bit more water today."
-- Jordan Staal

"None really at all," Bylsma said. "A couple guys in that game were dealing with heat. It was hot in the building so there was maybe a little more than they expected, a little bit of dehydration, a little bit of cramping from some other guys as well. I didn't really think Jordan would have any problem."

Missing time is something Staal is looking to avoid. He sat out the first 39 games last season dealing with ankle and hand injuries.

After a Friday of rest and plenty of fluids, Staal is hoping to put the heat behind him. 

"Never had it like that before and hopefully it won't happen again," he said. "It was just a hot building, I guess. I got a lot of cramps and the legs started seizing up on me. Tried a couple shifts and could barely make it through. I'll drink a little bit more water today."

The Flames are hoping to put a little heat on the Penguins in what doubles as both their home opener and first game of the season. The game marks the return of captain Jarome Iginla, who will be in the lineup after battling through back spasms throughout the preseason.

A durable player throughout his career, Iginla has never played fewer than 70 games in any of his 14 seasons with the Flames. He insists rust won't be a problem, despite missing all five preseason games Calgary played in September.

"Fortunately for me, I have skated a lot more this summer than I ever have before, so hopefully that will help without being able to get into a preseason game," Iginla said. "Hopefully there was never too much rust, but I'm looking forward to it."

Mikael Backlund will not be in the lineup to center Iginla and left wing Alex Tanguay, however. The Swede likely will not get to see action until mid-November after having surgery to repair a broken finger suffered in last Sunday's practice. He is expected out up to six weeks.

David Moss will take over the duties of centering the Flames' top line.

The game marks the second of four consecutive home openers the Penguins will play in. They'll play a third Sunday night in Edmonton before returning home on Tuesday to play their own home opener at the Consol Energy Center.
Quote of the Day

Your team is going to want to recapture the feeling. What they're going to have to figure out is they're going to have to rewrite the story. Because you're going to rewrite the story doesn't mean you want a different end. It's just that you're going to have to learn that there's different challenges to get there, and if you're going to try and tap the same feeling, it ain't going to happen.

— Los Angeles Kings general manager Dean Lombardi on maintaining their success from last season