Many factors shape the outcome of a hockey game.
Logic isn't always one of them.
Witness the Penguins, who will face the New York Islanders tonight at Nassau Coliseum.
The Penguins are coming off a game Tuesday night against Atlanta at Consol Energy Center, which means this will be the eighth time this season they have played on consecutive days. It is reasonable to think that teams playing back-to-back games would be tired and bruised after the first, and thus at a competitive disadvantage in the second.
Doesn't work that way, though. At least not with the Penguins. They are 6-1 in the second game under such circumstances, so they have been almost invincible at a time when they should be vulnerable.
"Your guess [for the reasons behind that success] is as good as mine," forward Craig Adams said Tuesday. "I don't know."
Neither does defenseman Brooks Orpik, although he and some teammates have a theory they are happy to share. In fact, they already have done it with their bosses.
"We tell the coaches it's because we don't skate in the morning [of the second game]," Orpik said, smiling. "They don't want to believe that, though."
Four Penguins are among the top vote-getters at their position as the NHL's all-star balloting heads into its final days.
Sidney Crosby ranks first overall with 523,822 votes, and teammate and write-in candidate Kris Letang is second overall and No. 1 among defensemen with 391,525. Marc-Andre Fleury has taken over the top spot among goaltenders with 311,623, and Evgeni Malkin ranks No. 3 among forwards (289,878).
Voting will continue through Monday.
The Penguins have a chance to have four starters for the second time in franchise history. They did it in 1992 with Mario Lemieux, Kevin Stevens, Jaromir Jagr and Paul Coffey.
Center Jordan Staal, who has been out with a broken hand since early November, was to have another round of X-rays Tuesday night to determine how his injury is healing. A favorable assessment could put him on the cusp of joining the lineup.
"If they feel really comfortable with it, we'll take the next step," said Staal, who added that "every day, it's feeling better," although "it's hard to tell" precisely where his conditioning level is at this point.
Jamey Horan of the NHL communications department said Tuesday that "player and fan safety is paramount" when determining whether the Winter Classic between the Penguins and Washington will be played at 1 p.m. Saturday at Heinz Field, as scheduled.
And, while Horan did not say precisely when a decision on whether to delay or postpone the game because of rain would have to be made, he said, "we'll give fans plenty of time in advance to make plans."
In preparation, there will be a walk-through at the stadium tonight for various game staff and workers.
As with all NHL games, there will be video review for the Winter Classic, but with no available rigging for overhead goal cameras, there will be a camera inside each net. In addition, there will be old-fashioned live goal judges behind each end zone with control of the red and green lights. Six judges will work, one per end per period.
Ottawa general manager Bryan Murray told the Ottawa Citizen that the league office has informed him that Letang will not receive any additional punishment for a hit Sunday on Senators center Jason Spezza.
Letang was assessed a boarding minor for the play, which resulted in a shoulder injury that is expected to prevent Spezza from playing for about six weeks.
The discussion turned to how the league would have reacted if Crosby had received a similar hit, prompting this from Murray: "They would have canceled the league, wouldn't they?"
Dave Molinari: email@example.com . First Published December 29, 2010 5:45 AM