Penguins take step forward on injury front

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The Penguins will be checking the status of three injured forwards -- players whose talent would make for a strong top line -- for the home game tonight against Colorado.

The first one is the most familiar: center and captain Sidney Crosby, who hasn't played since Jan. 5 because of a concussion.

"There's no change in Sidney Crosby's status," coach Dan Bylsma said, meaning Crosby had not been upgraded to a game-day decision as of Monday after practice at Consol Energy Center.

Bylsma reiterated that the Penguins will let it be known when it is determined that Crosby can play.


Scouting report
  • Matchup: Penguins vs. Colorado Avalanche, 7:38 p.m. today, Consol Energy Center.
  • TV, Radio: Versus; WXDX-FM (105.9).
  • Probable goaltenders: Marc-Andre Fleury for Penguins; Semyon Varlamov for Avalanche.
  • Penguins: Are 2-8-1 at home vs. Colorado since 1995-96. ... Penalty killing, 94 percent, led NHL before Monday's games. ... Kris Letang among league leaders with 27:07 average ice time.
  • Avalanche: Is 6-2-1 on road. ... Power play, 27.1 percent, led NHL before Monday's games. ... Erik Johnson has 18 giveaways, among most in league; Ryan O'Reilly is among league leaders with 22 takeaways.
  • Hidden stat: The previous time the Penguins shut out Colorado was Feb. 24, 1980, a 2-0 win behind goaltender Michel Dion.

Crosby has been practicing with the club since the start of training camp Sept. 17 and was cleared for full contact Oct. 13.

The other two injured forwards seem like a better bet to be ready to face the Avalanche. Unlike Crosby, they are game-time decisions, according to Bylsma.

Winger Tyler Kennedy, who has missed 11 games because of a concussion, continues to practice after being considered for the lineup the past two games.

"I'm pretty close," Kennedy said. "We'll see [today]."

Winger Steve Sullivan did not practice. He left the 5-3 loss Saturday at Carolina because of an unspecified injury. It is not believed the injury is serious.

Crosby filled in for Sullivan at practice, skating on the left side of the top line with Evgeni Malkin and James Neal.

If none of the three injured forwards can play, the Penguins will need to add a forward to reach 20 healthy players, presumably through a promotion from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League.

Out of storage

His name is Dave Hester and there's no reason to believe he has any ties to the Penguins. Or the NHL. Or any form of hockey.

Yet lately he has had an influence over the Penguins in practice, around the dressing room and who knows where else.

All you have to do is listen for a loud, drawn-out "yep."

Hester owns a consignment shop in California and is a main character in the A&E reality show, "Storage Wars." He tries to outbid his competitors for the contents in various abandoned storage facility units that are up for auction.

His signature call when making a bid -- often held to the agonizing last nanosecond, to the frequent disgust of the other bidders -- has been co-opted by the Penguins as something of a mantra.

One player or staffer will bellow it, and others will answer in kind.

Even those who don't know where the yell comes from are using it.

"Someone was saying that one day, and everyone kept saying it," Neal said. "It's stupid, but it's funny."

Neal has only a rudimentary working knowledge of the source of the "yep."

"I guess it's from that [show]," he said. "I haven't seen it. I guess he just stands back and says that.

"I've got to see this guy."

That's OK. Perhaps Hester has never shot a puck or seen a Penguins game, either.

It's pretty clear what role Hester would hold if he played hockey, considering he is the agitator of his group.

Tip-ins

The Penguins will wear their dark blue alternate jerseys tonight. ... Tom Fitzgerald, assistant to the general manager, is in town and was on the ice for practice. ... Veteran winger Milan Hejduk was named captain of the Avalanche, the third player to wear the "C" since the club relocated from Quebec City. ... Penguins Jordan Staal, Pascal Dupuis, Joe Vitale and Richard Park delivered Thanksgiving turkeys to 100 Hill District families after practice. ... Wilkes-Barre forward Ben Street was named AHL player of the week after getting two goals, eight points in three games.



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