Penguins Notebook: For change, injury report offers lots of good news

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Defenseman Jay McKee won't be in the Penguins' lineup when they visit the New York Islanders today.

But he might be back in uniform a lot sooner than originally expected.

A little over a week ago, the Penguins announced that McKee would miss two-to-four weeks because of an infected finger.

Yesterday, however, he went through a lengthy workout with coach Dan Bylsma before the Penguins practiced at Mellon Arena and, barring a setback, could return in a matter of days.

"He's progressing quicker than the timetable we gave you," Bylsma said. "And, if he continues to do that, it won't be long. I don't know if that's 10 days or seven days or five days."

McKee underwent a surgical procedure that required two incisions, including one on the palm of his hand, to treat the infection. The early evidence about his recovery, while incomplete, is encouraging.

"With how things look on the outside, and with the amount of pain and mobility that he has, we assume that things are progressing in a positive way," Bylsma said.

Defenseman Alex Goligoski, who has an undisclosed injury, also took a significant step yesterday, as he practiced for the first time since leaving the lineup.

Right winger Tyler Kennedy (groin) and defenseman Kris Letang (shoulder) practiced again, too, but do not figure to play against the Islanders.

"Their progress has been very promising the past few days," Bylsma said. "They haven't had a lot of practice time with the team, and, in both cases, they need to have that.

"A few good practices, some physical [contact], some one-on-ones. Just the ordinary, physical contact that only comes through practice.

"They're doing very well, and they're [on pace to return] in the near future. But we'll see [exactly when]."

Thanksgiving with the Guerins

Although there were only two games in the NHL last night, most teams practiced yesterday, while people around the country celebrated Thanksgiving.

Most U.S.-born players take working on Thanksgiving in stride -- "I really don't know any different," right winger Bill Guerin said -- but that doesn't mean the holiday has lost its significance for them.

That's why, after the Penguins' flight landed yesterday, the players, coaches and staff bussed to Guerin's offseason residence on Long Island for a Thanksgiving meal.

"It's a little better than just sitting in a restaurant, like we always do," Guerin said.

Guerin got to spend some time with his family -- his wife and children had returned to Long Island a few days earlier to prepare for the team's visit -- but acknowledged that he would have preferred to have the entire day off.

Then again, if forced to choose, Guerin would prefer not to work on Christmas, which is a mandatory day off around the league, per the NHL's collective bargaining agreement.

"That's a great thing that our league has," Guerin said. "I always feel bad for the NBA guys who have to play on Christmas Day. I think that really stinks. I think that should be off."

Early decisions

If precedent is any indication, the winner of the game today likely will be known by the end of the second period.

New York is 11-0-1 when leading after two periods, and 0-5 when trailing then.

Talk about a heavy workload

Islanders goalie Dwayne Roloson made 58 saves during a 4-3 overtime victory in Toronto Monday, the most in a regular-season game since Quebec's Ron Tugnutt turned aside 70 during a 3-3 tie at Boston Garden March 21, 1991.

Roloson's total was the most by a winning goalie in a regular-season game since Mario Lessard of Los Angeles stopped 65 in a victory against Minnesota March 24, 1981.

Roloson's save percentage rose from .911 to .916 on the basis of his performance against the Maple Leafs.



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