Penguins Notebook: Roberts practices, won't play unless 100 percent

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Gary Roberts got a chance to test his injured groin in a full practice for the first time yesterday.

What he couldn't get was any particular insight on whether he'll be able to dress for Game 1 of the Penguins' second-round playoff series against the New York Rangers, set for 7:08 p.m. tomorrow at Mellon Arena.

That determination isn't expected until sometime after the Penguins' workout this morning.

"At this point, we'll see how it goes [today] before making any decisions about whether I'll be playing or not," Robert said.

Indications are that Roberts won't participate in the opener unless he's convinced he will neither aggravate the injury nor hinder the Penguins' chances of winning.

"It starts feeling good, and you have to make sure it's good enough that you're not going to be a liability out there," Roberts said. "That's what I need to realize. We have a lot of guys here who can do the job. If it's not close to 100 percent, I won't play."

Time to talk to the landlord

Penguins winger Petr Sykora and Jaromir Jagr of the Rangers are countrymen and friends, so they probably have plenty to discuss any time they get together.

But if the conversation ever starts to slow, Sykora has a new topic he can introduce: The ants with which he's sharing the South Hills home that he rents from Jagr.

"I have a war going on against the ants in Jagr's house right now," he said. "I lost the first battle, but I'm going to win the war."

Perhaps, but it's one that Sykora is being forced to fight on two fronts.

"I have the little ones in one part and the bigger ones in the second part," he said.

He hasn't talked to Jagr about either, although that could change.

"I don't want to bother him before the playoffs," Sykora said. "But let's see how it goes."

Brother vs. brother

Round 2 will pit Penguins center Jordan Staal against his older brother, Marc, a defenseman with the Rangers.

Jordan Staal allowed that facing a sibling adds a dimension to the series but insisted it won't have any lasting impact on their relationship.

"It's your brother," he said. "You want to end his season; you don't want him to end yours. It's going to be a battle, but we're still going to be brothers afterward. It's not going to change much. I think it should be a lot of fun."

Not, however, for his parents. Staal suggested early this week that a Penguins-Rangers matchup could be hard on them, and nothing's happened to change his mind.

"I think it will be," he said.

"I think they're coming down, too, so they're going to watch two sons battle it out to end [each other's] seasons. It's tough to cheer for one team or the other."

Signing day

The Penguins signed left winger Luca Caputi to a three-year entry-level contract.

Caputi, their fourth-round draft choice in 2007, had 51 goals and 60 assists in 66 games with Niagara in the Ontario Hockey League this season.

He has joined their American Hockey League minor-league team in Wilkes-Barre for the Calder Cup playoffs.

TV schedule

FSN Pittsburgh will televise as many as three games during the Penguins-Rangers series.

Versus, the NHL's national cable outlet, has exclusive rights to Games 1 and 4, while NBC will carry Game 2 and, if necessary, Game 5.

FSN Pittsburgh, meanwhile, will show Game 3 Tuesday from Madison Square Garden, Game 6 May 5 at the Garden and Game 7 May 7 at Mellon Arena.

The latter two will be played only if neither team has won four games by that point of the series.

Slap shots

The Penguins are 3-0 against the Rangers in the playoffs. They swept the first round in 1989, won a second-round series in six games three years later and did the same in five games in 1996. ... Will anyone win a faceoff in this series? Of the eight first-round winners, the Penguins were the worst on draws, controlling 46.6 percent; New York was second-worst at 47.7 percent.



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