Penguins Notebook: 2 starters out for final exhibition

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DETROIT -- The Penguins will be without two or, more likely, three regulars today when they close their exhibition schedule against Detroit.

Defenseman Brooks Orpik did not join the club on a weekend trip that started Friday night at Chicago because of a groin pull.

Coach Dan Bylsma said Saturday that Orpik "just needed to rest," and stressed that the problem is on the opposite side from where Orpik had offseason surgery for a sports hernia and unrelated to that injury.

Winger Arron Asham, who left the game in Chicago after just two shifts because of an undisclosed injury, is still being evaluated so there is no timetable for his return.

"He's still reacting to getting smooshed," Bylsma said.

Center and team captain Sidney Crosby continued to be bothered by a sore hip flexor and sat out a late afternoon practice at Joe Louis Arena.

While Asham's status beyond the next day or two remains unclear, Orpik and Crosby are expected to be ready for the regular-season opener Thursday against Philadelphia, Bylsma said.

No timetable for Craig

A player who has been out longer is forward Ryan Craig, who earned strong reviews from coaches before he left a Sept. 25 preseason game against Columbus because of a groin pull.

He is not on the trip, and there is no timetable for him to get back on the ice, Bylsma said, but he has not been demoted to Wilkes-Barre, either.

Bylsma said Craig is getting better, but there's no getting around the fact that he is missing a valuable chance to solidify a spot with the Penguins.

"It's a crowded roster to begin with," Bylsma said. "He did very well. He had a great game and was showing what he could do and now he's been out of that situation.

"Getting back on the ice, he's almost, but not quite, starting over again with training camp. It's a difficult situation, but he's shown well so far and that bodes well for him."

Tip-ins

Bylsma hinted that he knows who his new alternate captain will be, but he is not ready to announce who will succeed Sergei Gonchar. The top candidates appear to be Orpik, defenseman Paul Martin and forwards Jordan Staal, Matt Cooke and Chris Kunitz. Evgeni Malkin is the returning alternate. ... The Penguins practiced for a hefty 90 minutes, and the players had to be ushered off the ice because of a private skating event. ... Detroit will be playing its third preseason game in as many days, a scheduling situation that is not allowed during the regular season.


For more on the Penguins, read the Pens Plus blog with Dave Molinari and Shelly Anderson at www.post-gazette.com/plus .


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