Penguins Notebook: Godard waits for his return to lineup


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SUNRISE, Fla. -- For someone who goes 6 feet 4, 214 pounds, winger Eric Godard has been all but invisible the past several weeks.

The Penguins' enforcer has not played since Feb. 11 in an ugly, penalty-marred, 9-3 loss against the New York Islanders. Godard received an automatic 10-game suspension for coming off the bench to defend a teammate in a fight in that game.

He has sat out the 12 games since his suspension ended, including the one Saturday night against the Florida Panthers.

"It's always tough not playing, but we have a lot of good guys," Godard said. "This time of year, it's about points for the playoffs. I've just got to contribute wherever I can.

"This is a good team. I'm always involved in [off-ice] stuff, and the guys are great. My role is my role. I just have to try and help keep the guys upbeat."

Godard, 31, has played in 17 games this season with one assist, has not appeared in a playoff game in his three seasons with the Penguins and is eligible for unrestricted free agency this summer, so his future with the club is murky.

"There's a lot of competition at this point for the bottom six forwards in our group," coach Dan Bylsma said. "The physical aspect of it is not as much of a factor down the stretch and going into the playoffs. Really, it's about being able to roll four lines and being able to play in the offensive zone."

The Penguins have a rematch with the Islanders Friday on Long Island. Depending on where things stand with playoff seedings and matchups, the Penguins could use Godard that night in case things get rough again.

"Oh, yeah, of course I would love to be in that game," Godard said. "We'll see."

Crosby skates again

Penguins center Sidney Crosby, recovering from a concussion, skated with his teammates for a third day in a row.

There was no update on his status, and he is expected to continue with non-contact workouts as long as his symptoms don't return. He missed his 38th game Saturday night.

Praise for Johnson

With three games left in the regular season, it is hard to know when Brent Johnson will get another start in goal for the Penguins after he spelled Marc-Andre Fleury against the Panthers.

Whether Johnson (11-5-3, 2.19 goals-against average, .920 save percentage before last night) plays in one of those three games, at some point in the playoffs or not until next season, he has quite a fan in Bylsma.

"As a backup, I don't know if I've witnessed a better goaltender to complement a starting goaltender like [Fleury]," Bylsma said. "He's a great team guy. He's also ready to go in at a moment's notice and play an outstanding game."

Johnson was particularly valuable in the early weeks of the season when Fleury struggled.

New hairdo

When center Craig Adams removed his helmet after the Penguins' morning skate, he revealed a freshly cut mohawk -- buzzed but not shaved on the sides, short spikes on top.

"There's no reason behind it," he said.

"We'll see how long it lasts," he said. "We'll see how it goes, see how we do tonight.

"It's lots of maintenance. [High maintenance] is not really my style. It's day to day right now."

Tip-ins

Penguins forward Arron Asham missed his second game in a row because of an unspecified injury. ... Besides Crosby, 11 other skaters and both goaltenders participated in the Penguins' optional morning skate. ... Florida started Scott Clemmensen in goal. Tomas Vokoun left after regulation last Sunday in the Panthers' 2-1 shootout loss to the Penguins at Consol Energy Center because of a back injury. ... Panthers winger David Booth played in his 300th NHL game, all with Florida.


Shelly Anderson: shanderson@post-gazette.com .


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