Penguins Notebook: All-Star break arrives at good time for players

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Some will catch the first plane they can to an island where the wind-chill factor is hovering near 85.

Others will head to their hometowns, while a few plan to just hang around this area.

But while the Penguins' plans vary for the all-star break that begins Wednesday, their reaction to having time off seems to be universal: They like it.

It might be different if they were entirely healthy and on an extended winning streak, but that's not the case, on either count, so the Penguins seem to be looking forward to having five consecutive days without practices or games.

"It's a good time [for a break]," forward Craig Adams said. "Whenever you get a break, you just make the most of it. Personally, I'm looking forward to it."

So is right winger Tyler Kennedy, who suggested that having time off now could work to the Penguins' benefit when the regular season is winding down.

"Guys are sick and obviously [Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby] are still out," he said. "I think it's a good time to get a break before we make a push for the end."

Malkin likely to miss action

Malkin, who has missed the past two games because of a left-knee injury and sinus infection, is not expected to play against the New York Islanders 7:08 p.m. today at Consol Energy Center.

Coach Dan Bylsma said Monday that Malkin is "not likely" to be in the lineup this evening.

The outlook is more optimistic for defenseman Kris Letang and left winger Chris Kunitz, both of whom Bylsma said he expects to play against the Islanders. They were excused from Monday's practice because of illness.

Although Malkin has not formally withdrawn from the All-Star Game in Raleigh Sunday, that appears to be little more than a formality.

Bylsma said the decision on whether Malkin should play will be "collaborative" between Malkin and team officials, and that it will reflect "what's best for [Malkin] and for the team."

Championship atmosphere

Sunday's AFC championship game between the Steelers and New York Jets might have been the first to have two guys who scored Stanley Cup-winning goals in the crowd.

Mike Rupp, who got a Cup-clinching goal for New Jersey in 2003, and Max Talbot, who scored one for the Penguins in 2009, were on the rather long list of players and coaches who spent Sunday evening at Heinz Field, and seemed to enjoy the experience.

"It was awesome," Rupp said. "You can't really explain it."

Rupp said he stayed in the stadium until there were about 10 seconds left in the fourth quarter, and drew parallels between some of his postseason experiences and the Steelers-Jets game.

"We have playoff feelings in the NHL that are awesome," he said, "and this is on the same level."

He described the outcome, a 24-19 Steelers victory, as "the culmination of so many different plays," adding that, "you can go on and on with how many big plays there were."

Oh, and one other observation.

"It was definitely a team effort," Rupp said. "And it's going to need to be the same in a couple of weeks."

Ready to go

Right winger Eric Godard, who hasn't played since Dec. 26 because of facial injuries received during a fight with Ottawa's Matt Carkner, resumed practicing with his teammates Monday.

"It's fun to get back with the guys," he said. "Skating by yourself kind of gets old pretty quick."

Godard wore a full cage to protect his face, but said he should be able to discard it after the all-star break and expects to get clearance to resume playing around the same time.

"[Conditioning coach Mike Kadar] has been pushing me pretty hard, and I felt pretty good in the practice," Godard said. "I think I'm ready to go."



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