Penguins forward Dustin Jeffrey has seven points in 13 games this season.
By Dave Molinari Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Teams can carry no more than 23 players on their NHL roster during the regular season.
Fortunately for the Penguins, there's no limit to how many can be placed on injured reserve.
Forward Dustin Jeffrey, injured in their 2-1 overtime victory Thursday against Los Angeles, is the latest to turn up there. He must sit out for at least a week -- he not only missed a game against the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum Friday night, but also can't dress for road games against the New York Rangers Sunday and Colorado Wednesday.
Jeffrey shouldn't get lonely considering Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Chris Kunitz, Mark Letestu, Arron Asham and Mike Comrie were on IR before he arrived.
Crosby and Malkin are on the Long-Term Injured list, so their $8.7 million salary-cap hits don't count against the $59.4 million cap ceiling until they return to active duty. In Malkin's case, that won't be until next season.
Coach Dan Bylsma said Friday he has not experienced anything in the NHL quite like the run of injuries to significant players the Penguins are going through, but that working in the American Hockey League prepared him a bit for handling such situations.
"When you get a call-up [from an AHL club], it's your best guys," he said. "So, you get accustomed, at points in time, to losing good players on your team and having to deal with it as a coaching staff."
Bylsma said Jeffrey was put on IR because the Penguins needed to clear a spot on the 23-man roster, but added that his preliminary information about Jeffrey's injury suggested he wouldn't have been able to play again in less than a week, anyway.
Jeffrey missed a doctor's appointment to have his injury evaluated Friday because of an auto accident, although not one in which Jeffrey was involved.
Tangradi returns quickly
Jeffrey's injury prompted the Penguins to recall winger Eric Tangradi from Wilkes-Barre. He had been returned to the Baby Penguins two days earlier after appearing in the previous four games.
Tangradi, who turned 22 Thursday, is on his third stint with the Penguins this season. He played the first nine games with them before being sent to Wilkes-Barre.
And while he acknowledges that he was disappointed the first time he was sent down, Tangradi now believes that it was the best thing for his game.
"I can't honestly sit here and say I deserved anything other than that [demotion]," he said. "It made me the person I am right now, and definitely helped my development, to get me to where I am right now.
"If I didn't go down to Wilkes-Barre and get that confidence and find my game and really feel good about myself -- find the pucks around the blue paint and start to bury them -- I wouldn't understand the player that I need to be.
"I honestly think I've come a long way. It's been four months. I think I've gotten better mentally and physically."
Now that's a homestand
Tampa Bay will play its seventh consecutive home game when Carolina stops by the St. Pete Times Forum this evening.
That's quite a homestand, and it's barely half over.
The Lightning is playing 12 consecutive games on home ice, the longest such stretch for any NHL club since 1975-76. Game No. 1 was Jan. 23; No. 12 will be Feb. 25.
Tampa Bay won the first three but is 1-2 in the past three. Whether that indicates the Lightning is getting stale from being at home for so long is conjecture, but it certainly isn't something to which most players are accustomed.
"You want some changes," Penguins forward Max Talbot said. "You want to go on the road. Play one here, one there."
Lightning coach Guy Boucher knows the feeling, and thus has scheduled a trip to the Naples/Fort Myers area to break up the routine of 35 consecutive days in Tampa.
As for whether having so many games in a row at home is good or bad for a team, Talbot deferred judgment.
"We can reflect more after 12 games," he said. "Right now, it's tough [to say]."