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Bylsma only sees talent, not opponents' records

by Wes Crosby /

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins are not treating their matchup with the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday (1 p.m. ET, NHLN-US) differently than any previous game.

The Penguins have built a 6-1-0 record while facing five sub-.500 teams -- four who have won one game or fewer -- but Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said teams' records this early in the season are not indicative of their skill level.

"Early in the season I don't give a lot of credit to the record and where they're at in the standings," Bylsma said after Pittsburgh's Friday practice. "The Flyers were a win away from being six points behind us in the standings, which isn't that far and a lot can be said for their start or lack of their start. But that game [Thursday] would've put them within four or six points.

"It's tough to give those records credence. We're playing a Vancouver team that is good in a lot of areas, good with their top skill and are a good team and that's what we're looking at, at a John Tortorella team."

Kris Letang, Beau Bennett and Matt D'Agostini skated Saturday morning but will not return to the Penguins' lineup.

"Kris is progressing and is getting closer," Bylsma said Saturday. "Beau is on the ice [and] really other than just twirling around, it was his first time in gear, and Matt is on the long-term [injured reserve]."

The Penguins recalled forward Chris Conner on Friday from the team's American Hockey League affiliate, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Connor is tied for the team lead in points (four) and goals (three).

"He's experienced, he's played a lot of hockey games with us," Bylsma said. "We know what he can do and bring. As expected, he went down and did very well down there [with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton]. I think, looking at the four games, the two previous games and the two [Saturday] and Monday, Harry [Zolnierczyk] brought an element to add to those two games and we had the eye on possibly bringing Chris Conner up with the roster spot and the situation we have to help play these two games with his speed, with his energy on the wing."

Bylsma said the lineup is a game-time decision, making it possible Conner will play against the Canucks. But it is expected that Deryk Engelland will play his second straight game as right wing on the fourth line while Zolnierczyk plays on the left side of Joe Vitale.

Here are the expected lineups for the Canucks and Penguins for the game Saturday:


Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Pascal Dupuis

Jussi Jokinen - Evgeni Malkin - Chuck Kobasew

Dustin Jeffrey - Brandon Sutter - Craig Adams

Harry Zolnierczyk - Joe Vitale - Deryk Engelland

Brooks Orpik - Paul Martin

Rob Scuderi - Matt Niskanen

Olli Maatta - Robert Bortuzzo

Marc-Andre Fleury

Jeff Zatkoff

Scratched: Dustin Jeffrey, Chris Conner

Injured: Matt D'Agostini (lower body), James Neal (upper body), Kris Letang (knee), Tomas Vokoun (blood clot), Beau Bennett (lower body)


Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Mike Santorelli

Chris Higgins - Ryan Kesler - Jannik Hansen

David Booth - Jordan Schroeder - Zack Kassian

Tom Sestito - Brad Richardson - Dale Weise

Jason Garrison - Kevin Bieksa

Dan Hamhuis - Christopher Tanev

Ryan Stanton - Yannick Weber

Roberto Luongo

Eddie Lack

Scratched: Zac Dalpe, Andrew Alberts

Suspended: Alexander Edler

Injured: Alexandre Burrows (foot)

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