Penguins Notebook: Malkin moves back to center


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DALLAS -- The Penguins' plan to move Evgeni Malkin to right wing and promote Jordan Staal to second-line center has been derailed.

At least for the foreseeable future.

With Staal now expected to be out until perhaps mid-December, Malkin has reverted to his original position, center. He played there Wednesday night against the Dallas Stars after recovering from a bruised right knee that forced him to miss a game.

Coach Dan Bylsma said the club was willing to wait out Staal's absence because of a stubborn foot infection. Staal was targeting the Dallas game for his season debut, but on Monday he got hit with a puck during practice, leading to surgery Tuesday for a broken hand.

"Now with him being injured again and going to be [out] six weeks, we thought about this immediately," Bylsma said of switching Malkin back to second-line center.

"Talking to Evgeni, he's completely comfortable with the switch and the responsibilities that come along with playing center."

Malkin, a former NHL scoring champion, had just three goals, nine points in 11 games before the Dallas game.

Against the Stars, Malkin had Tyler Kennedy on his right wing. Malkin has struggled on faceoffs, and Kennedy, Bylsma said, gives the Penguins an option for taking draws, particularly when they are on the right side.

Bylsma said with Mark Letestu playing well enough to hold down the third-line center spot and not wanting to ask Malkin to continuously switch spots, he expects Malkin to remain at center.

Just in time

Penguins winger Pascal Dupuis is known for his speed, and Wednesday his ability to get somewhere fast meant everything.

In the wee hours, Dupuis got the word his wife, Carole-Lyne, was going into labor with their fourth child. He rushed to fly back to Pittsburgh.

"He walked into the hospital eight minutes before his baby daughter was born," Bylsma relayed after the Penguins' morning skate.

The newest member of the Dupuis clan is Lola.

Dupuis missed a chance to play in his 600th NHL game. His spot on right wing on the top line was taken by Mike Comrie.

Precocious Crosby

What was Penguins star and Olympic hero Sidney Crosby like when he was, oh, 7 years old?

"He was always a kid that was well ahead of other kids his age. He was just better than everybody," said Stars center Brad Richards.

The two are Canadian Maritimers, Crosby from Nova Scotia and Richards from Prince Edward Island, and for years growing up they attended Andrews Hockey School in PEI in the summer.

Richards, 30, is 7 years older than Crosby and was one of Crosby's instructors.

"He was pretty mature, to be 14 and to be running hockey camps and taking care of kids," Crosby said. "He was someone we all looked up to. He was going to junior and he went away [to school] for hockey. He was a good role model for everyone."

Richards stayed involved with the school until he made it to the NHL and no longer could carve out the time. He and Crosby played their junior hockey at different times in Rimouski.

They got to play against each other several times early in Crosby's career when Richards was with Tampa Bay but rarely get to face each other now.

That hasn't softened their respect for one another.

"He's not 6 feet 4, and he's not the biggest, strongest guy, but his will is as good as anybody that's ever played the game," Richards said of Crosby.

"The best way to say it is, he's a complete player," Crosby said of Richards. "Great playmaker. He's got a great shot. He sees the ice really well."

Tip-ins

The Penguins, with their top seven defensemen healthy for the first time since early in the season, scratched Ben Lovejoy. That means Deryk Engelland has earned the role as the team's sixth defenseman, based on Bylsma saying after the morning skate that those who dressed for this game had earned the top six spots. ... The Stars, who went into the game with no injuries, scratched winger Krystofer Barch and defenseman Jeff Woywitka. ... Although Dupuis will have to wait to play in career game No. 600, Penguins forward Craig Adams hit that milestone against the Stars.


Shelly Anderson: shanderson@post-gazette.com . First Published November 4, 2010 4:30 AM


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