Penguins Notebook: Bylsma continues defensive rotation

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Coach Dan Bylsma knows one thing about his lineup of Penguins defensemen.

"As long as he's healthy, Kris Letang will stay in," Bylsma said, purposely stating the obvious about the top scorer among defensemen in the NHL and a potential Norris Trophy candidate.

Beyond that, not a lot seems set. At least, not as long as there are eight healthy, NHL-proven players on the defensive roster.

Tuesday night against the Boston Bruins, Deryk Engelland was back in the lineup after being a healthy scratch for the first time this season Sunday against the New York Islanders. The healthy scratches were rookie defensemen Simon Despres and Robert Bortuzzo.

The club's other defensemen are Brooks Orpik, Paul Martin, Matt Niskanen and Mark Eaton.

There is a possibility the team will reduce its number of defensemen with the April 3 trade deadline approaching. In the meantime, Bylsma might forgo a 12th forward in some games.

"There is a strong possibility of seven defensemen as the season goes on, given the fact that we have quality -- seven, eight guys -- that we can turn to," he said.

Bylsma noted that before Engelland was scratched: "He played well in Toronto [Saturday]. That wasn't a factor of him coming out of the lineup."

The criteria Bylsma uses to determine who plays and who sits includes "the physicality of the game, the opponent, what we need," he said.

Something new in shootout

It was not, Penguins team captain Sidney Crosby said, an affront to the spirit of hockey.

"You tend to see the same moves night in and night out. It's nice to see someone try something different," Crosby said of a trick shootout move Ottawa's Kaspars Daugavins tried but failed to score with Monday against the Bruins.

"Obviously, if someone scores, we're talking about it a little more. He probably got a little bit of a hard time about it. I don't have a problem with it at all."

Daugavins moved down the ice with the tip of his stick blade on top of the puck. At the top of the crease, he did a 360-degree turn, giving Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask a snow shower. Rask got his left pad down and stopped the puck as Daugavins tried to steer it over the goal line.

David Krejci then scored to give the Bruins a 2-1 win.

"I was watching that game. I was surprised," said Crosby, a regular in shootouts for the Penguins. "I thought he got a pretty good chance out of it.

"When guys try that kind of stuff, you don't really know what to expect. If he would have dumped it in the corner, I probably would have had a different feeling about it. But I thought he had a pretty good chance. It's a creative play he almost scores on. He probably got a better chance than maybe some of the other shooters."

Letang, also on the short list of Penguins shootout specialists, agreed.

"I wouldn't do it, but I would say if the guy is confident that he's got a move in his mind and he can pull it off, it's a great thing to do," Letang said. "It's good to see something different, and I don't think any goalie in the league would be expecting that. It could have gone either way."

Penguins goaltender Tomas Vokoun called it a "one-dimensional" move because Daugavins couldn't lift the puck or even use a conventional shot, leaving him little choice but to try to deke Rask with a spin-o-rama.

Vokoun took a "fool me once ..." view.

"I think it's more surprising when you do it the first time," he said. "I don't think it would work if you do it [as a signature move]. It was something different.

"If it worked, it would look good. When you do something like that, you run the risk of it not looking great. He tried. It didn't work. I'm sure it's not something people are going to be trying too much, so I'm not too worried about it."

Tip-ins

Penguins center Evgeni Malkin, who has an unspecified injury, skated before the team's game-day skate. ... The Bruins played without center Chris Kelly, who got hurt Monday night. ... The Penguins wore purple warmup jerseys as part of Hockey Fights Cancer awareness. ... After playing Monday night, Boston did not hold a morning skate.

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For more on the Penguins, read the Pens Plus blog with Dave Molinari and Shelly Anderson at www.post-gazette.com/plus. Shelly Anderson: shanderson@post-gazette.com and Twitter @pgshelly.


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