Penguins' Engelland suspended for 3 games

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The NHL's collective bargaining agreement mandates that all players be off Dec. 24-25.

Penguins defenseman Deryk Engelland , though, is going to get more of holiday break than most.

Brendan Shanahan , who handles supplemental discipline for the NHL, announced Thursday that Engelland has been given a three-game suspension for delivering a blow to the head of Chicago's Marcus Kruger in a 3-2 victory Tuesday against the Blackhawks at Consol Energy Center.

Engelland will sit out the game at Winnipeg tonight and home games Tuesday against Carolina and Thursday with Philadelphia. He is eligible to return Dec. 31 when the Penguins visit New Jersey.

Zbynek Michalek , who has missed the past 10 games because of a concussion and its lingering effects, went through a full practice Thursday, and the unofficial word is that he is ready to play tonight, if called upon.

Should Michalek suffer a setback or if the Penguins decide to have an extra defenseman on hand, they could recall one from Wilkes-Barre, which already has begun its holiday break.

Even before Engelland's suspension was announced, some of his teammates grumbled about a perceived lack of consistency in Shanahan's rulings, and Engelland's punishment isn't likely to change their minds.

In a video presentation explaining his ruling, Shanahan said "Engelland drives up to deliver a check, launching himself and making Kruger's head the principal point of contact with [Engelland's] left forearm.

"Although Engelland has Kruger lined up for what could potentially be a clean, full-body check, his elevation and launch upon impact, as well as the way in which Engelland forcefully drives his hands and arms up and into the face area makes this, in our eyes, a recklessly targeted shot to Kruger's head.

"It should be noted that while Kruger remained in the game to finish the first period, he experienced symptoms during the first period and has been diagnosed with a concussion."

Shanahan also noted that Engelland is a first-time offender, which presumably helped him to avoid an even more severe punishment.

Precisely what Engelland thinks about the suspension isn't known because even before the ruling came down, team officials said he would not be doing interviews for the second day in a row. Engelland also did not speak with reporters immediately after the Chicago game, either.

The suspension will cost Engelland $9,189.18 in salary, with that money going to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund.

Injured Staal is struggling

It's apparent to anyone who watches him that center Jordan Staal is operating at less than 100 percent. He has missed three of the past five games with what is believed to be a groin injury, and clearly is hampered by it when he does play.

Staal started the season with a strong offensive surge, putting up six goals and three assists in his first 11 games, but has struggled to get onto the score sheet in recent weeks.

He enters the Winnipeg game with no goals in his past seven games and no assists in his past 12.

"I haven't had too many points in a while," he said Thursday. "Offensively, I have to start picking it up again.

"Especially with [ Sidney Crosby ] out again, I need to find a way to create [scoring] opportunities for me and my linemates. I was doing it at the beginning of the season. I don't see why I can't keep doing it."

Team Western Pennsylvania?

Team USA will be representing the entire country when it begins play at the world under-20 championships in western Canada next week. But it might be representing Western Pennsylvania more than just about anyplace else.

Four players from this area -- goalie John Gibson (Baldwin), defenseman Stephen Johns (Wampum) and forwards Brandon Saad (Gibsonia) and J.T. Miller (Coraopolis) -- are on the final, 22-man roster announced Thursday.

So is forward Josh Archibald , a Penguins prospect and a sixth-round selection this year in the entry draft.

Left winger Kenny Agostino , a fifth-round selection by the Penguins in 2010, was one of the final five players cut.


For more on the Penguins, read the Pens Plus blog with Dave Molinari and Shelly Anderson at www.post-gazette.com/plus . Dave Molinari: dmolinari@post-gazette.com and Twitter @molinaripg .


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