Penguins Notebook: Injured players could add needed depth

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The Penguins practiced with just 19 players Monday at Consol Energy Center. Reinforcements before their next game, Friday when the New York Rangers visit, could come from the injury list.

Defenseman Paul Martin returned to practice for the first time since he was hurt Dec. 16 in an awkward collision with Ottawa's Chris Phillips that sent Martin sprawling.

Martin, whose injury has not been disclosed, said he "felt good. We have a couple more days of this, which is good, before the next game. ... Our goal is definitely [to play] Friday."

Forwards Pascal Dupuis and Arron Asham, who were injured Saturday at New Jersey, did not practice. Coach Dan Bylsma said they are considered day to day. Dupuis' problem hasn't been disclosed. Asham was hit on or near his left knee while blocking a shot.

Forward Dustin Jeffrey (knee) and defenseman Robert Bortuzzo (concussion) continue to skate in full gear and could return to practice as early as later this week, Bylsma said.

There was no update on center Sidney Crosby or defenseman Kris Letang, both out because of a concussion or related symptoms.

Star's performance

When the subject of New Year's resolutions came up, Penguins center Evgeni Malkin said his goal is to stay at around 205 pounds.

Toward that goal, he said he was careful about what he ate New Year's Day with no practice.

"I remember two years [ago] I was a little bit heavy, 215. It was harder to skate," said Malkin, who is 6 feet 3.

At any weight, Malkin has been strong this season, playing well offensively and defensively. He leads the team and is among the NHL leaders with 43 points. He had six goals, 20 points last month and was named the NHL's first star for December.

"He was dominant in a lot of areas in his game," Bylsma said. "That was a really impressive month."

As he has before, Malkin credited an offseason of good workouts while he rehabilitated from knee surgery.

"I thank my teammates," he said of his monthly honor. "I have great confidence now. I believe in myself. It was a great summer."

Despres impressive

In anticipation of Martin's likely return, the Penguins over the weekend sent rookie defenseman Simon Despres back to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League.

Despres, the teams' first-round draft pick in 2009, had a power-play goal, three assists and a plus-minus rating of plus-four in his first 13 NHL games. He averaged more than 15 minutes of ice time

"I thought Simon did a lot of good things in the games here, and I think Simon's going to be a really good defenseman for a long time in this league," Bylsma said. "The games he came up, he got a good opportunity, showed what he could do, showed he could defend and be in a lot of situations."

Made for TV

Anyone who has been watching HBO's "24/7" series chronicling the Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers and had a preconceived notion that goaltenders are a bit eccentric probably have been riveted by Ilya Bryzgalov.

The Flyers goaltender has waxed about how insignificant our problems are in the scope of the cosmos and likened his Siberian husky to a hot blond woman.

"I've been enjoying it. He's been entertaining and fun to watch," said Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who isn't concerned about what Bryzgalov might be doing to goalies' reputations.

"It doesn't matter to me," Fleury said. "I think it's funny. It's good for the show. It's entertaining. It's being talked about. It's mostly about him, not all goalies."

For much more on the Penguins, read the Pens Plus blog with Dave Molinari and Shelly Anderson at . Shelly Anderson: , 412-263-1721 and Twitter @pgshelly


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