Until yesterday, right winger Petr Sykora could sum up his previous couple of weeks pretty easily.
He was miserable.
So he was upbeat yesterday after he was able to take the morning skate with his Penguins teammates.
"I feel better, but I didn't feel like I was in any kind of shape," said Sykora, who dealt with a respiratory illness followed by a groin injury.
He is still waiting to play in his first game of the season after missing the team's Mellon Arena opener against New Jersey last night and the two games against Ottawa last week in Stockholm, Sweden, as part of the NHL Premiere.
Sykora said he was feeling great about his game in the preseason -- until two weeks ago.
After traveling with the Penguins to Sweden, he missed practices and team activities the first three days because of a respiratory illness. When he returned to practice Oct. 1, his groin was injured.
"I probably should have known better, maybe don't go 100 percent, try to break myself in, but I kind of felt pressure of the games coming up and I tried to have a good practice and tried get back as soon as possible, and that happened," he said.
While his teammates were skating and seeing Stockholm, Sykora was limited to some time with trainers or on his own.
"It was one of the worst weeks I had in a long time because I just sat in the hotel room," he said. "I didn't really see the city. I didn't play games. I didn't practice. Basically, I just sat there and watched TV for a week. It's not something I'm going to be telling my kids about probably."
Sykora hopes to go through a rigorous practice today and would like to be ready to play Tuesday when the Penguins play host to Philadelphia, but coach Michel Therrien said the team will be careful to not risk a recurrence.
New Jersey goaltender Martin Brodeur entered last night 12 wins shy of tying Patrick Roy's NHL record of 551 for his career. He was also 31 appearances short of 1,000, seven shutouts short of Terry Sawchuk's record of 103, and needed 60 games and 2,967 minutes to match Roy's records
Which, assuming the Devils' skaters play their part, should be no sweat for Brodeur, 36.
He has played in at least 70 games for 10 seasons running and 11 of the past 12.
"Marty Brodeur's doing it year after year," Therrien said. "We all know he's chasing Patrick Roy. I'm sure it's going to be an exciting season for him."
The Penguins' Marc-Andre Fleury is 13 years younger than Brodeur and understands the desire to play so much.
"When you're a player, you always like to play," Fleury said. "He's able to stay healthy and he's consistent all year long. If you can do that, that would be great."
Fleury, like the majority of NHL goaltenders but unlike Brodeur, plays a butterfly style, which has a reputation for being hard on players' hips over the years.
Therrien doesn't believe Fleury's style precludes him from being a similar workhorse.
"I believe so," Therrien said. "Marty's got his own style. Fleury's in great shape. He's a good athlete. He's going to play a lot of games."
Besides Sykora, the Penguins scratched wingers Paul Bissonnette and Bill Thomas, going with seven defensemen. The Devils' scratches were defensemen Sheldon Brookbank and Andy Greene and center Petr Vrana. ... Mellon Arena featured two new Penguins banners, celebrating the club's 12 NHL scoring champions and listing their five NHL MVP winners. ... The team played in front of its 68th consecutive sellout home crowd. ... After playing at home Friday night, the Devils had a lightly attended optional morning skate.
Shelly Anderson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1721.