By Dave Molinari and Shelly Anderson Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Coach Dan Bylsma confirmed the obvious Tuesday, saying that Sidney Crosby will not be in the Penguins lineup for Game 7 of their first-round playoff series against Tampa Bay tonight.
That doesn't mean Bylsma isn't contemplating a few other personnel changes.
The leading candidates to swap their street clothes for a game sweater tonight are left winger Eric Tangradi and defenseman Deryk Engelland, both of whom could address specific weaknesses that have emerged over the course of the series.
The Penguins power play is 1 for 30, and Tangradi provided an effective net-front presence during man-advantages when given the opportunity. A screen he set for Tyler Kennedy in Game 4 made their only man-advantage goal of this series possible.
Engelland, meanwhile, plays a physical game and might be able to reduce the number of second-chance scoring opportunities the Lightning gets. Many of Tampa Bay's goals in the first six games have come on rebounds.
Asked whether either or both will dress for Game 6, Bylsma said only "maybe."
He did acknowledge that there are valid concerns about dropping a player into the deciding game of a series when he hasn't appeared in it at all.
"It is a difficult thing to do," Bylsma said. "Bringing a guy in that hasn't played, coming in cold."
The NHL is not expected to take any action related to two incidents Monday in Game 6.
After Tampa Bay's 4-2 win, coach Guy Boucher told the St. Pete Times that Brooks Orpik tried to poke the eye of Lightning center Steven Stamkos during a scrum in the third period.
Orpik was not available to comment on Boucher's charge, and Stamkos declined to confirm or elaborate on it. "Whatever happens on the ice, happens," Stamkos said. "You have to pay the price and take stuff in the playoffs. Right now, we're just focused on Game 7."
Tampa Bay general manager Steve Yzerman did not say whether he spoke with the NHL, but told the Times: "If the league thinks there is any wrongdoing or anyone crossed a line, they'll deal with it. I can just say there are a lot of things that cross the line, both physically and verbally, in the course of a preseason game, a regular-season game and the playoffs, so we move on."
As of Tuesday evening, the Penguins had not heard from the league about Boucher's accusation.
Late in the second period, Lightning winger Ryan Malone was assessed a minor elbowing penalty for a hit on Pascal Dupuis.
Although some replays suggest the blow caught Dupuis in the head, it was not blind-side contact, so it did not violate Rule 48, which governs hits to the head.
Conner on Conner
One of the pivotal moments in Game 6 came midway through the second period, when winger Chris Conner was awarded a penalty shot with Tampa Bay in front, 2-1.
As Conner moved in on goalie Dwayne Roloson, he lost control of the puck and settled for taking a low-percentage slap shot from inside the left circle.
"I was going down, and [the puck] just kind of jumped on me," Conner said Tuesday.
"It definitely doesn't feel good.
"But, at the same time, stuff happens, and you just have to move on."