The Penguins could have a radically different look when they face Washington at 7:38 tonight at Mellon Arena.
And not just because Sidney Crosby won't be in uniform.
The Penguins summoned three forwards -- Chris Minard, Tim Brent and Jonathan Filewich -- from Wilkes-Barre yesterday. Any, or all, could be in the lineup against the Capitals.
The Penguins know they won't have Crosby for a while, but the status of three other players is less clear.
Right winger Colby Armstrong, who got a bruised hip early in a 2-0 victory at Montreal Saturday, skated in a warmup suit yesterday and is listed as day-to-day. So are forwards Adam Hall, who has an injured groin from Saturday night, and Tyler Kennedy, who sat out the Montreal game because of illness.
At the same time Minard, Brent and Filewich were being promoted to the NHL, defenseman Ryan Lannon was being sent back to the Baby Penguins.
Lannon was recalled two weeks ago, but did not get into a game in his time on the NHL roster.
Brent, acquired from Anaheim in June, is Wilkes-Barre's leading scorer, with seven goals and 28 assists in 39 games, but is viewed primarily as a checking-line forward at the NHL level.
Minard has 17 goals and 14 assists to rank second in points among the Baby Penguins. He has a quick release and is regarded as a goal-scorer who is willing to operate in high-traffic areas.
Filewich's production this season has not met most expectations -- he has seven goals and 10 assists -- but he is considered one of the better prospects in the organization.
Crosby is scheduled to undergo a thorough examination of his injured right ankle tomorrow.
He received a high ankle sprain in the Penguins' 3-0 loss to Tampa Bay Friday, but swelling has made it impractical to try to assess the severity of his injury.
Information gathered in tomorrow's examination likely will be used to formulate a timetable for when Crosby, who was tied for first place in the NHL scoring race when he was injured, will be able to resume playing.
The Penguins have dominated Washington the past few years, beating the Capitals six consecutive times and 10 times in the past 11 meetings, but have no reason to take getting two points tonight for granted.
Not only because they're adapting to life without Crosby, but because Washington has been one of the better teams in the league since Bruce Boudreau replaced Glen Hanlon as coach earlier this season.
The Capitals enter tonight's game on a 7-2 roll and are 12-4-3 in their past 19 as they have scrambled back to .500 (21-21-5) for the first time since Oct. 24. Washington has not lost consecutive games in regulation in Boudreau's 26-game tenure, its longest such run since an identical stretch in the 2000-01 season.
Boudreau began his coaching career with the Fort Wayne Komets of the International Hockey League in 1990-91, but didn't make it to the NHL until Hanlon was fired in the fall.
"It's good to see that a guy who spends time in the minors and has some success finally gets a chance to get to the NHL," Penguins coach Michel Therrien said. "He certainly earned his spot in the NHL."
Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury's junior team, the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, will retire his No. 29 sweater Friday. He is the first player in team history to be so honored. The ceremony will precede a game against Lewiston.
"He was the one that really legitimized what our franchise is all about, put us on the map and gave our fans an opportunity to see what major-junior hockey was all about," team president Paul MacDonald told the Cape Breton Post.
"His impact has been immeasurable, really, on our franchise. Everybody who came since has followed in his footsteps."
Tonight's game will start at 7:38, not 7:08, even though it is being televised by Versus. Most Penguins' games carried on that network begin at the earlier time. ... Five of the past six games between the Penguins and Washington were decided by one goal.
Dave Molinari can be reached at DWMolinari@Yahoo.com .