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Orpik, Vitale join Penguins' list of injured players

by Dan Rosen

NEWARK, N.J. -- Just when it appears the Pittsburgh Penguins are close to getting healthy for the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, a few more injuries have popped up.

Brooks Orpik and Joe Vitale did not accompany the team on the trip for the game Thursday against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN) because each is dealing with a lower-body injury.

Orpik was injured in the game Tuesday against the Buffalo Sabres. Vitale did not play in either of the past two games.

Paul Martin and James Neal returned to practice Thursday, and though neither will play against the Devils, either could return for the regular-season finale Saturday against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Martin has missed the past 11 games with a broken hand, and Neal has missed the past seven with a concussion.

"I think that's the plan," Martin said of his status. "I was hoping for [Thursday], but now it looks like probably Saturday."

Sidney Crosby did not travel with the team due to a dental appointment Thursday, Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. There still is no timetable for Crosby's return to the lineup from the broken jaw he sustained during a game March 30. He has been skating but has yet to return to full practices with the team.

Bylsma would like to have at least some of the injured players back for the game Saturday against the Hurricanes even though the Penguins have clinched the top seed in the Eastern Conference.

"For lineups, lines, power plays, those types of situations, to be able to get those things in our game would be a good thing," Bylsma said. "Some of the combinations of lines and defensive pairings are possibilities down the road in Game 1, Game 2 and Game 3, so you try to look at all those things in terms of how you put your lines together, your team together. If we get some of them back for one game, than that will help."

Bylsma said Marc-Andre Fleury will start in net against the Devils. Here is what the rest of the Penguins lineup could look like:

Pascal Dupuis - Evgeni Malkin - Jarome Iginla

Chris Kunitz - Brandon Sutter - Matt Cooke

Brenden Morrow - Jussi Jokinen - Beau Bennett

Tanner Glass - Craig Adams - Tyler Kennedy

Mark Eaton - Kris Letang

Douglas Murray - Matt Niskanen

Simon Despres - Deryk Engelland

Marc-Andre Fleury

Tomas Vokoun

Scratched: Dustin Jeffrey, Steve MacIntyre, Robert Bortuzzo, Eric Hartzell

Injured: Paul Martin (wrist), Brooks Orpik (lower body), Joe Vitale (lower body), Sidney Crosby (jaw), James Neal (concussion)


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