Perhaps it seems as if the Penguins have been hit particularly hard by injuries because big names such as center Sidney Crosby and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury have been gone for chunks of time or because others, such as defenseman Mark Eaton and forwards Gary Roberts and Adam Hall, have been on the shelf for an extended period of time.
In reality, the Penguins went through the first couple months of the season in good shape and are not as depleted as some teams.
For instance, their opponent last night at Mellon Arena wouldn't have a lot of sympathy for the Penguins.
Florida went into the game with 282 man-games lost. The Penguins are in a lower-rent neighborhood. They entered the game at 160.
"Everyone goes through that," said Panthers defenseman Jay Bouwmeester. "You can't use that as an excuse."
Florida, like the Penguins, has shaken off the lost bodies to stay in the hunt for a division title.
"Considering the amount of guys they've lost to injury this year, they've done a good job of keeping themselves in contention," Penguins defenseman Rob Scuderi said. "They're right there in the Southeast race. I have no reason to believe they'll fall out of it anytime soon.
"They've certainly had way more of a hit to their team, but we've had our share, and we've dealt with it pretty good."
One thing the Penguins haven't had to rebound from is the horrific injury to the Panthers' Richard Zednik, whose carotid artery was sliced Feb. 9 when he was inadvertently cut on the neck by teammate Olli Jokinen's skate. Zednik, who had life-saving surgery, is resting at home in Florida.
"We haven't seen him yet, but the big thing was when we found out he would be all right," Bouwmeester said. "That made it a little easier to deal with, even though our thoughts are with him."
Crosby, recovering from a high ankle sprain, had his daily workout on the ice before the Penguins' regular morning skate. For part of the time, he practiced with rookie winger Christopher Minard, assistant coach Mike Yeo and strength and conditioning coach Mike Kadar.
Crosby previously had said he would not be ready to play last night.
Also out last night, for the third game in a row, was forward Erik Christensen.
"He's not close to returning. Maybe next week. We'll see," coach Michel Therrien said of Christensen, who has a shoulder injury.
Forward Kris Beech didn't skate but, with a cast on his broken right wrist, ran the arena steps.
A decision on how to juggle three goaltenders ---- Fleury, Ty Conklin and Dany Sabourin -- was put off for at least another day.
Therrien said Fleury will continue his conditioning stint in the minor leagues by playing his fourth game for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton tonight against Hershey.
Fleury, the undisputed starter before he got a high ankle sprain Dec. 6, is 2-1 with the Baby Penguins with a 1.35 goals-against average and a .957 save percentage.
Penguins forwards Evgeni Malkin and Petr Sykora sat out the optional morning skate, a fairly unusual move for Malkin. ... Florida coach/general manager Jacques Martin missed the Panthers' practice Monday in Pittsburgh and their morning skate yesterday to attend the early parts of the NHL GM meetings in Naples, Fla. He was back behind the bench for the game. ... The Penguins scratched Minard. Florida scratches were defenseman Magnus Johansson and forwards Stephen Weiss (finger) and Gregory Campbell.
Shelly Anderson can be reached at email@example.com or 412-263-1721.