Ottawa defenseman Erik Karlsson doesn't think Penguins left winger Matt Cooke intentionally sliced mostly through his Achilles tendon with his skate blade -- "I refuse to believe that anyone would do that," Karlsson said -- but he made it clear Friday that he blames Cooke.
Karlsson, injured in a Feb. 13 game at Consol Energy Center, spoke publicly for the first time.
"I think the situation could have been prevented," said Karlsson, who had surgery and is expected to miss the rest of the season.
"I don't think it would have happened it if was another type of player."
The play happened when Cooke pinned Karlsson against the boards as the two were tracking the puck.
"As soon as I see it's him, I know what's going on," Karlsson said. "I've been around long enough to know who's going to hit you and who's not. As I always do, I moved in the last second, and he misses me. He still reached for me.
"I lost the strap on my helmet. His hands are high. He reached out his leg, which I don't think he has any reason to do. That's why it happened. He has full control of his body. He knows exactly what he's doing out there, and that's why I'm sitting here with my leg in a cast.
"I don't think he meant to cut me, but he meant to hit me hard and try and knock me out."
Karlsson's news conference in Ottawa coincided with the Penguins' morning skate at Consol Energy Center in advance of the game Friday night against Florida. Cooke did not address Karlsson's comments after the skate but has been adamant that the cut was accidental and that he feels terrible about the injury.
Karlsson, who won the Norris Trophy last season as the NHL's top defenseman, acknowledged that Cooke reached out to him.
"I received a text," Karlsson said. "Didn't think too much of it. Didn't reply. I don't think that we have anything to say to each other. ... At least, he reached out, which I didn't expect."
Dustin up his game
Dustin Jeffrey returned to the lineup after being a healthy scratch for the previous four games and 13 of the first 17. He essentially replaced Joe Vitale as the fourth-line center, but the two are not interchangeable.
"What I bring to the table is a little different than what Joe brings to the table," Jeffrey said.
Coach Dan Bylsma elaborated.
"Joe's more of an energy guy, more of a physical guy, and Joe's been really good on the faceoffs," Bylsma said. "Dustin has been decent in the faceoff circle, but he's more a smarter positional player, a smarter player in hockey IQ with the puck. He thinks better and plays with the puck.
"Whether he plays a fourth-line role or four-on-four, he's a guy who adds more offensively. He's a sound, defensively responsible guy as well."
Rookie defenseman Simon Despres also returned after sitting out the previous two games. He replaced fellow rookie Robert Bortuzzo in the lineup. The other scratched player was winger Zach Boychuk.
No name wanted or needed
Florida has the so-called Kid Line featuring skilled rookie Jonathan Huberdeau, 19, Drew Shore, 22, and Peter Mueller, 24.
When healthy, Penguins captain Sidney Crosby has spent most of the past few seasons and all this season with wingers Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis. But they aren't looking for a catchy name, Crosby said.
"It usually comes from the media, anyway, not from the players themselves," Dupuis said.
Orpik on 1980 Olympics
Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik was named after late United States Olympic and Penguins coach Herb Brooks.
Orpik reflected on the "Miracle on Ice" U.S. upset of the Soviet Union en route to the 1980 Olympic gold medal Friday, the 33rd anniversary of the famous game.
"It's monumental," Orpik said.
"Hockey's gotten a lot more popular probably the last 10 years, but that was more of a national/political statement, I think. It had a lot of other connotations to it.
"But it gave U.S. hockey a good platform to grow to where it is now."
For more on the Penguins, read the Pens Plus blog with Dave Molinari and Shelly Anderson at www.post-gazette.com/plus. Shelly Anderson: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @pgshelly. First Published February 23, 2013 5:00 AM