Penguins forward Eric Godard might miss Thursday's game with the Bruins.
By Dave Molinari Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Eric Godard has seen this kind of buildup before.
The talk of retribution and carnage, of mayhem and vengeance.
And he has a pretty good idea, if precedent holds, of precisely what type of chaos will flare when the Penguins visit Boston Thursday.
The very limited kind.
"I don't think I've ever seen a game get built up like that and have something [happen]," Godard said.
There are no guarantees, of course.
It could be that, as Godard suspects, there will be nothing more violent than a hooking minor when the Bruins and Penguins get together for the first time since Matt Cooke scrambled Marc Savard's brain with a blow to the head in the Penguins' 2-1 victory nine days ago at Mellon Arena.
But there also remains the possibility of something akin to anarchy because of the outrage, simmering and otherwise, that lingers in Boston over the check that might well have ended Savard's season.
Especially when Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli all but accused his players of being down a quart or so of testosterone because none of them went after Cooke in the moments that followed his hit on Savard.
It is on just such occasions when the value of Godard, one of the league's more accomplished fighters, is at its highest. He understands the role of enforcer, and executes it without hesitation or reservation, and that tends to have a calming influence on opposing players.
But Godard doesn't expect to be handling the job Thursday. He hasn't appeared in a game since injuring his groin Jan. 25 at Madison Square Garden in New York, and doesn't have a timetable for getting back in the lineup.
"Like [trainer Chris Stewart] says, It's 'day by day by day by day,' " he said.
Godard seems to be making progress, however. He added on-ice workouts with conditioning coach Mike Kadar to his rehabilitation regimen last week, and doesn't appear to have experienced any problems because of them.
"We're just seeing how it goes," he said. "I'm just trying to get it strong again."
Godard said that surgery wasn't an option in his case, that his injury "just kind of had to heal on its own."
With Godard unavailable, it remains to be seen if the Penguins will bolster their lineup for Thursday's game by bringing in some muscle from their American Hockey League affiliate in Wilkes-Barre.
Asked Monday whether such a move is planned, general manager Ray Shero responded, "No," but went on to say that "something could change, I guess."
Shero added that he and coach Dan Bylsma discussed personnel Monday for the Penguins' next few games, including the one in Boston, and had "no final thought" on promoting someone from the Baby Penguins.
A guy such as rugged left winger Wade Brookbank certainly would add some toughness to their lineup, but the coaching staff presumably would want to be confident that whoever is brought up would not be an on-ice liability.
Winning fights against Boston certainly would be a Pyrrhic victory if the Penguins lose the game and come up one point shy of winning the Atlantic Division, or clinching home-ice advantage for their first-round playoff series.
What's more, while Godard is the Penguins' preeminent fighter, he is not the only guy on the roster who is willing to drop his gloves when the situation demands it.
In fact, he ranks third on the team in fighting majors this season. Mike Rupp is first with nine, followed by Craig Adams (7) and Godard (6).
Rupp actually is a bit bigger than Godard, too -- 6 feet 5, 230 pounds, compared to 6 feet 4, 214 pounds -- and obviously isn't shy about fighting, but he said fallout from the Cooke-Savard incident should not obscure the Penguins' primary objective when they venture in to the TD Garden.
"We're looking at it from the standpoint of, we have a job to do, in putting games together," Rupp said. "We want to win our division, and those are two points [that are needed].
"We understand what has transpired, and we're going to go in there with the mentality of wanting the two points, and that we're there for each other."