PHILADELPHIA -- Sidney Crosby will see a lot of familiar faces when he goes to Dallas for the NHL All-Star Game Jan. 24.
He just won't see them during the game.
Crosby will be the Penguins' only representative in the game, but three of his teammates -- centers Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal and defenseman Ryan Whitney -- have been selected to play for the Eastern Conference in the YoungStars game that is part of the All-Star proceedings.
"There were some real good players left out of the big game, obviously," general manager Ray Shero said. "But this is a great step for these younger players, to be around that atmosphere."
Participants in the YoungStars game, which will be played Jan. 23, were selected by the NHL's hockey operations department in consultation with the league's general managers.
Malkin and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury had been considered candidates, though hardly locks, to join Crosby on the Eastern All-Star squad. Fleury was not eligible for the YoungStars game because he no longer is on his entry-level contract.
Malkin raised his 39-game point total to 44 with two goals and an assist in the Penguins' 5-3 victory against Philadelphia here yesterday and said he was not disappointed to be left out of the main game.
"He's happy he made the [YoungStars] game," said defenseman Sergei Gonchar, who translated for Malkin after the game. "Too bad he didn't make the adult one.
"But it's a goal for him the next year. He said, 'My career is ahead of me, so I'm not disappointed.' "
Neither, predictably, is Staal, a rookie who said he didn't expect to be selected and described himself as "really ecstatic." Whitney, meanwhile, said "it should be pretty cool" to play in the game.
Other participants in the YoungStars game, by conference, are:
East -- Goalie Kari Lehtonen (Atlanta), defensemen Mike Green (Washington) and Andrej Meszaros (Ottawa) and forwards Patrick Eaves (Ottawa), Phil Kessel (Boston), Zach Parise (New Jersey), Alex Steen (Toronto) and Thomas Vanek (Buffalo).
West -- Goalie Peter Budaj (Colorado), defensemen Matt Carle (San Jose), Brent Seabrook (Chicago), Ladislav Smid (Edmonton) and Shea Weber (Nashville), and forwards Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim), Jussi Jokinen (Dallas), Anze Kopitar (Los Angeles), Alexander Radulov (Nashville), Lee Stempniak (St. Louis) and Wojtek Wolski (Colorado).
Eaton might return soon
Penguins defenseman Mark Eaton, out since Nov. 4 with a dislocated left wrist that required surgery, hopes to receive clearance to resume practicing with his teammates after his injury is X-rayed, examined and evaluated tomorrow.
If all goes well, he said, he'll have a "realistic shot" at realizing his goal of returning to the lineup when the Penguins visit Dallas and Phoenix immediately after the All-Star break.
"That would be what I'm shooting for," he said. "I hope to be ready by then."
Eaton's defensive work and penalty-killing were major factors in the Penguins' 7-3 start, and his steady, reliable play helped Gonchar, a chronic slow starter, have a productive October.
Filewich catches Shero's eye
Forty-three games into the season, Mark Recchi, who got his 11th goal yesterday, remains the only Penguins winger to hit double figures, and the lack of offensive support for guys such as Crosby and Malkin remains one of the team's most obvious shortcomings.
And while they don't have a big-time goal-scorer anywhere in their organization outside of the NHL, right winger Jonathan Filewich's production -- 16 goals and 17 assists in 37 games with the Penguins' Wilkes-Barre minor-league team before it played at Grand Rapids last night -- might earn him a look from management.
Shero suggested yesterday that, while there are no immediate plans to recall Filewich, it isn't out of the question at some point, either.
"I saw Filewich play last weekend," he said.
"He's done a good job. He's having a good year. At the proper time, I think he'll get a look, whether it's soon or later."