It looks as if Penguins center Jordan Staal might not be ready to make his season debut by mid-December as the team had hoped, assuming mid-December is taken literally.
A return to practice isn't imminent for Staal, who is recovering from surgery on a broken right hand, and it would seem he would need at least a few practices before he plays.
"He's not close enough that I know [about it]," coach Dan Bylsma said Wednesday of Staal getting clearance to practice.
"He's been working out hard and skating hard, but he just started the process of putting motion and movement into rehab with his hand.
"It seems like a slow process at first when you're [doing simple hand and finger movements] all day long vs. lifting a weight. He's certainly been doing a lot of skating on his own."
Staal had surgery Nov. 2 after getting hit in the hand by a puck in practice the previous day. He had missed the games before that because of a foot infection.
Forward Mike Comrie, who has an undisclosed injury and missed a seventh game in a row Wednesday when the Penguins played Toronto at Consol Energy Center, is not skating and will be evaluated again next week.
"It's not a setback," Bylsma said. "He's now getting into some more extensive rehab."
In addition, forward Evgeni Malkin sat out for a third game in a row because of a knee injury. He is day to day.
Kris Letang figures perhaps some people from his hometown of Montreal or maybe fans in other NHL areas have been voting for him for the All-Star Game, but he is sure it's mostly Penguins faithful.
"I want to thank them for their support," said Letang who, three weeks into the voting, has moved to the top spot among defensemen despite being a write-in candidate.
"I've always said Pittsburgh has the best fans in the world."
With a 17-game points streak and playing on a club with an 11-game winning streak, Penguins center Sidney Crosby has been getting tons of attention. What Tampa Bay and Team Canada Olympic general manager and former Detroit Hall of Famer Steve Yzerman said this week stood out to Crosby.
"He's a great example for all young players that here we have one of the best players in our game, a young guy just driven to get better in all areas," Yzerman said. "It's so important because he can play in all situations and score the goal, set up the goal, he can win the faceoff, he'll block a shot. How valuable is that?"
Crosby took the comments to heart.
"That means a lot," he said. "He's someone I looked up to as a player, and I had the opportunity to go through the Olympics to get to know him a little bit better. It's always appreciated and always a compliment to hear that from someone like him. If anything, that should motivate me to keep doing it."
Former Penguins winger Colby Armstrong, now an alternate captain with the Toronto Maple Leafs, not only has character but is one, too. He played in just his 11th game Wednesday night after missing time because of hand surgery.
Toronto coach Ron Wilson, usually dry when talking about his club, took Armstrong's personality into account when he addressed his value to the club, which going into the game against the Penguins was 7-2-1 with Armstrong the lineup, 3-10-3 without him.
"He's played very well," Wilson said. "He's a leader in the [locker] room. He finishes his checks.
"And the other team inevitably knows he's in the game and spends a lot of time talking to him throughout the game. He's got a lot of friends in the league. It's amazing."
Although Penguins 2010 first-round draft pick Beau Bennett was passed over for the United States' preliminary roster for the World Junior Championships, three others with local ties were among the 29 picked.
They are defenseman Philip Samuelsson, the Penguins' 2009 second-round draft pick and a sophomore at Boston College; defenseman Patrick Wey of Mt. Lebanon and Boston College,; and forward Brandon Saad of Gibsonia, projected as a high first-round draft pick in 2011.