Penguins Notebook: MRI reveals damage to Jeffrey's knee


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The Penguins did not get good news from an MRI that rookie center Dustin Jeffrey had on his right knee Monday, but they did not get complete news, either.

"There is some damage to his knee, but it needs further evaluation to see how much it is," coach Dan Bylsma said Tuesday. "There's no timetable."

Jeffrey missed a third game in a row when the Penguins faced Philadelphia at Consol Energy Center. He got what could be a significant injury Thursday in the previous meeting between the clubs. His leg bent awkwardly when Flyers center Jeff Carter fell on him.

Cooke is back with team

Winger Matt Cooke has rejoined the Penguins, but not their practices. Cooke skated with three injured forwards before the team's game-day skate.

He was given a week off after the NHL handed down a suspension of the final 10 regular-season games plus the first round of the playoffs for his elbow to the head of New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh.

Crosby skates early again

Center Sidney Crosby, recovering from a concussion, again was a member of the early skating crew. There remains no word on when he might get clearance to practice, and Bylsma said that as of Tuesday it had not been decided whether Crosby might travel with the team on its two-game trip to Florida this week.

The others in the foursome who skated early were Cooke, Eric Tangradi and Nick Johnson, who also had concussions. Johnson is in full gear now.

Tangradi, who essentially has been cleared to play but has not been able to crack the lineup, returned a short time later to participate in the morning skate.

Letestu returns

Center Mark Letestu figures the Penguins would not have reinserted him into the lineup Tuesday if they did not believe he was fully recovered and in top form after missing the previous five games because of what was believed to be a shoulder injury.

Letestu offered some solid logic after the morning skate.

"I took faceoffs, had contact, everything. There's no restrictions on my game," he said. "Otherwise, I don't think they'd put me out there. I think we've got a pretty good thing going. To put a guy out there that's less than 100 percent or has any restrictions, I think, just cheats the guys in the [locker] room."

Letdowns inevitable

Bylsma has observed that in hockey, the June swoon comes around early April. It's not so much when there are big games such as the showdown with rival Philadelphia, but at other times when teams struggle to find motivation.

"Every year at this time of the year, as you approach the end of the year and you know you're going to be in the playoffs and you may know your spot -- or you think you may know -- there always seems to be a few games where there is a letdown or a lack of focus factor for your team," Bylsma said.

"Every year I've been a part of a coaching staff, it's happened. Those are sometimes tough times for coaches because you think you should still have focus or you think you still have reasons to play games.

"If you have a good answer, we can talk about it."

Tip-ins

Goaltender Brent Johnson returned to his role as Marc-Andre Fleury's backup, and rookie Brad Thiessen was reassigned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League. Johnson had missed the three previous games because of what was believed to be a minor neck injury. ... The Penguins' healthy scratches were forwards Mike Comrie and Eric Godard and defenseman Deryk Engelland. ... FSN Pittsburgh, which televises Penguins games locally, Friday becomes Root Sports. ... The Penguins signed New Hampshire forward Paul Thompson, the 2010-11 Hockey East player of the year, to a two-year entry level contract. Thompson, who is 6-feet, 210 pounds, had 28 goals and 24 assists in his senior season.


For much more on the Penguins, read the Pens Plus blog with Dave Molinari and Shelly Anderson at www.post-gazette.com/plus . Shelly Anderson: shanderson@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1721


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