Penguins notebook: NHL hands Neal five-game suspension

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Before James Neal was handed a five-game suspension by the NHL, Penguins coach Dan Bylsma wasn't ready to absolve him for kneeing Boston's Brad Marchand in the head Saturday.

"We talked about more than that play in the game," Bylsma said Monday of the 3-2 loss against the Bruins two days earlier.

"The game got heated up. There were situations where we maybe got involved in ruckuses we didn't need to, emotionally and physically. That certainly was one where he didn't need to get into it."

Neal forfeited $128,205.15 in salary and served the first game of his suspension Monday night when the Columbus Blue Jackets visited Consol Energy Center.

After the Boston game, Bylsma noted Neal had not avoided contact with Marchand, who got tangled with Penguins center Sidney Crosby and was on the ice when he got clipped by Neal as Neal skated by.

The NHL agreed with Bylsma's assessment and went further, asserting that Neal targeted Marchand's head.

Brendan Shanahan, who handles supplemental discipline for the league, said in an explanatory video that Neal's action was "more serious than simply not avoiding contact with a fallen player," and that he maneuvered his skate and extended his leg "ensuring that contact [was] made."

Shanahan added that Neal had a "clear view of Marchand and plenty of time to avoid him" and skated "directly through Marchand's head with his left knee."

Neal has 10 goals, 20 points in 16 games. He missed all but a handful of shifts of the first 16 games this season because of an injury.

This is his third NHL suspension.

Bylsma on Orpik

Although he has a concussion by definition after being knocked unconscious Saturday, Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik was at the arena Monday.

"I've seen Brooks [Sunday] and [Monday]," Bylsma said. "He's doing quite well."

Orpik was taken from the ice on a stretcher after being pulled down from behind and punched by the Bruins' Shawn Thornton in a first-period stoppage of play.

"It was pretty scary, in a lot of regards," Bylsma said. "He's up, moving around just fine, doing just fine. When a guy gets unconscious for -- I don't know how long it was; 30 seconds, maybe longer? -- you have a concussion.

"Having said that, I don't have [information] on any other kind of symptoms he's had to this point."

Penguins general manager Ray Shero, in California for the NHL Board of Governors, offered more details on Orpik.

He told reporters that Orpik had some memory loss -- he didn't remember Saturday's game beyond the national anthem -- and had headaches and a sore neck.

Orpik was placed on injured reserve. There is no timetable for his return.

More from Boston game

On a play Saturday that didn't draw as much attention as those involving Orpik or Neal, Penguins right winger Pascal Dupuis whacked at a puck near the right point to try to keep it in the Bruins end and his stick broke the ankle of Boston's Chris Kelly.

"I guess I got him in the back of the leg," Dupuis said. "It's unfortunate. You don't want to injure players.

"At first, I didn't even know I got him. I feel bad about it."

Dumoulin is called up

To replace Orpik on the roster, the Penguins recalled defenseman Brian Dumoulin from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League. Dumoulin, 22, was a healthy scratch against Columbus but could make his NHL debut during his call-up. He had a goal and five assists in 22 games with Wilkes-Barre.

Dumoulin might have gotten a shot to stick with the Penguins out of training camp if not for an undisclosed injury and the subsequent emergence of rookie Olli Maatta. "It was a tough injury, especially being so early in training camp, but I'd rather it happen then than during the season," said Dumoulin.

He added that with Wilkes-Barre he concentrated on making a solid defensive game even stronger.

Tip-ins

With Neal out and center Evgeni Malkin back after missing two games because of an undisclosed injury, the Penguins scratched Dumoulin and forward Harry Zolnierczyk. ... Finland released its camp roster for the IIHF world junior championships and, as expected, Maatta was not on it. The Penguins, and apparently Maatta, believe his development will be better served if he remains in the NHL. ... Defenseman Rob Scuderi (ankle) and winger Tanner Glass (hand) continued to skate separately from the team.

Shelly Anderson: shanderson@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1721 and Twitter @pgshelly.


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