Penguins notebook: Vitale puts fighting for job in new light with injured nose
September 18, 2013 4:00 AM
Joe Vitale fights with the Flyers' Harry Zolnierczyk in 2012. Vitale started off the preseason in the same fashion, fighting on Sunday with Columbus' James Wisniewski.
By Dave Molinari Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Penguins center Joe Vitale doesn't know if his nose was broken in his fight Sunday with Columbus defenseman James Wisniewski.
Likely never will since he hasn't gotten an X-ray.
His nose is a bit bruised and swollen -- "It's always been kind of crooked," Vitale said, smiling -- but he was back on the ice Tuesday when the Penguins practiced at Consol Energy Center and said there were no lingering effects of his bout with Wisniewski.
"Everything was fine," he said.
Whatever the merits of getting involved in a fight during the waning minutes of a preseason game might be, they would seem to be outweighed by the potential for an injury. Vitale, though, said there was nothing preconceived about the run-in with Wisniewski, who he described as "a really tough kid."
"It happened so fast," he said. "I remember the whistle. I finished my hit on him, and I gave him a whack. Next thing you know, we're both throwing [punches]."
Although Wisniewski earned a clear decision, Vitale said, "I thought it was a good fight," and seemed to have no misgivings about participating in it.
"It's one of those things where it's kind of nice to get the first one out of the way," he said. "Get right back into it."
Although Vitale returned to practice Tuesday, right winger Bobby Farnham and defenseman Brian Dumoulin, both of whom were injured in the Blue Jackets game, did not. Neither did forward Andrew Ebbett, who has an unspecified injury and is listed as day to day.
Some preseason benefits
The Penguins (0-1-1) have four more preseason games, beginning with a visit Thursday to Chicago.
Although not all established players are overly enthused about competing in games that don't count, some believe they are an indispensable tool for preparing for the regular season.
"I like to play at least three," veteran defenseman Rob Scuderi said.
"It helps you to get a better feel for what's going to be going on.
"It's still not a real game, because you're not dealing with a lot of NHL-level personnel, but it can still give you a good feeling for what the speed's going to be like and certainly getting the physicality back into the game."
He added that, while training camp can restore an edge to players' conditioning, going through game situations is the only way to truly get ready for what it is ahead.
"Going into the corner, setting your body up for a battle," Scuderi said. "Those types of things are the toughest things to get used to."
The Penguins trimmed their training-camp roster to 44 by making 11 cuts Tuesday.
Forward Jean-Sebastien Dea was signed to a three-year entry-level contract, then returned to his junior team. Goalies Matt Murray and Tristan Jarry and forward Matia Marcantuoni also went back to their junior clubs.
Forwards Paul Thompson, Tom Kostopoulos, Brian Gibbons and Dominik Uher and defensemen Clark Seymour, Reid McNeill and Nick D'Agostino were assigned to the Penguins' American Hockey League affiliate in Wilkes-Barre.
NHL rosters must be down to no more than 23 players by the start of the regular season.
Sidney Crosby picked up a nasty-looking gash on his lower lip when he was elbowed in practice. ... Turns out those estimates of 11,000 fans attending the Penguins-Detroit preseason game at Consol Energy Center Monday night -- at the same time the Pirates and Steelers were playing regular-season games -- were a bit low. Team officials say there actually were 12,300 people in the arena for the game.