Injury totals growing every day

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An update on the Penguins' injury front might start with the old question of whether one would like the good news or the bad news first.

And that's pretty much every day.

While the concussion setback involving center Sidney Crosby topped other injury issues Monday, several other players are out or are in various stages of coming back from problems.

In new developments, forward Richard Park has a broken right foot and is out four to six weeks, and defensemen Zbynek Michalek (concussion) and Brian Strait (elbow) returned to practice at Consol Energy Center.


Scouting report
  • Matchup: Penguins vs. Detroit Red Wings, 7:08 p.m. today, Consol Energy Center.
  • TV, radio: Root Sports, WXDX-FM (105.9).
  • Probable goaltenders: Marc-Andre Fleury for Penguins. Jimmy Howard for Red Wings.
  • Penguins: Are 6-0-3 vs. West. ... Are 8-2-2 at home. ... James Neal led NHL in power-play goals (9) and shots (125) before Monday's games.
  • Red Wings: Are 5-1-0 vs. East but have not faced Atlantic Division team. ... Had season high in goals in 7-1 win Saturday vs. Winnipeg. ... Howard leads NHL with 17 wins.

    Hidden stat: Detroit has chased the opposing goalie the past two games.


Michalek and Strait aren't expected to be available for the home game tonight against Detroit, and Crosby ruled himself out of at least that game, but center Jordan Staal could be a possibility. He is day to day because of an unspecified injury, according to coach Dan Bylsma.

Another defenseman, Deryk Engelland, returned Saturday after missing two games because of an unspecified injury.

Remaining out are defensemen Kris Letang (concussion), Robert Bortuzzo (concussion) and Ben Lovejoy (wrist), and forward Dustin Jeffrey (knee). Lovejoy skated before practice with conditioning coach Mike Kadar.

The Penguins have lost 143 man-games to injury through 30 games -- more than a third of the season -- which has led to a pipeline of players being brought up from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League.

"I've been really impressed with the guys coming in, doing a great job," Michalek said. "It's nice to see that this team has so much depth."

Michalek, who has missed six games, is going through a multi-step process that so many others, including Crosby, have when they are recovering from a concussion. He will be monitored to see if symptoms surface again. If not, he still must be cleared for contact in practice and then for games.

"It's moving in the right direction," Michalek said. "[It] was a really big step, going back to practice. It was a good day. I felt good on the ice."

He and Letang got hurt in the same game, Nov. 26 at Montreal, but Letang -- who also got a broken nose -- hasn't reached the point of being cleared for practice.

Strait, a rookie, was one of those summoned from Wilkes-Barre because of injuries. He got a hyperextended left elbow in his first game of the season, Oct. 18, and has missed the past 22 games.

"It is tough," Strait said. "It's one of those things where, especially for a guy like me, there's opportunities [to play], but injuries happen in hockey."

Fellow rookie Simon Despres is with the Penguins after starting the season in the AHL, but Strait feels as if he could play soon if the club needs him. He will meet with doctors today.

"I feel good," he said. "Aerobically, I feel real good. I've been skating for about three weeks. Now it's just getting my timing back, battling a little bit in practice, making sure everything goes well. I'm excited to be out there. It's been a long time being out. It's nice to play hockey.

"I feel like I'm close, but every couple of days we'll have to re-evaluate."

Bortuzzo's experience was similar to Strait's. Another rookie, he was called up for the second time this season and was playing in his fifth game during this stint when he got hurt Thursday on a leveling hit by Philadelphia's Zac Rinaldo.

Lovejoy has missed the past 16 games because of broken left wrist.

Park got hurt Dec. 3 when he took a shot off of his right foot while killing a penalty late in a game at Carolina. Before the break was discovered, he was listed as day to day, but he had not practiced.

Jeffrey missed the first eight games because of lingering issues following spring knee surgery, played in six games, then had a setback. He is not practicing.

Staal missed Saturday's 6-3 win against the New York Islanders because of an unspecified injury he got a game earlier.

If Staal can't play tonight, the Penguins will need to add a forward, most likely via a promotion from Wilkes-Barre.

NOTES -- Boston forward Brad Marchand was fined $2,500, the maximum allowed, for slew-footing Penguins defenseman Matt Niskanen in a game Dec. 5. Marchand got a minor tripping penalty, and the two fought. ... Despite reports that Los Angeles has interest in Penguins assistant Tony Granato , the Kings had not sought permission to speak to Granato about replacing fired coach Terry Murray .


Shelly Anderson: shanderson@post-gazette.com , 412-263-1721 and Twitter @pgshelly


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