Penguins' Engelland not likely to change his game

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The Penguins likely could have used what Deryk Engelland brings when they lost, 4-2, Thursday against rival Philadelphia.

"He's a guy you miss in a game like [that]," coach Dan Bylsma said Friday. "We'll get him back and be glad to put him on the ice [today]."

Engelland, who has blossomed into a solid defenseman beyond his noted physical play, will return for the game this afternoon at New Jersey after sitting out the past three games on an NHL suspension for a hit Dec. 20 to the head of Chicago's Marcus Kruger .

Not previously known for being a dirty player, Engelland doesn't plan on altering his game on the heels of the suspension.

"Being physical creates a little bit of room," he said. "That's the way I play."

That's the way Bylsma wants it.

"He's a physical presence," the coach said. "He's also a guy who is a tough guy to play against, is demanding on other teams' skill players."

Engelland has two goals, 10 points, four fighting major penalties in 32 games, is second on the team with 48 blocked shots and is tied for third with 68 hits.

Injury updates

The skating injury brigade -- defensemen Paul Martin (undisclosed) and Robert Bortuzzo (concussion) and forward Dustin Jeffrey (knee) -- was on the ice before practice again but none returned for practice.

Early in the week, Bylsma had hoped Martin would be able to return by today, but by Friday listed him as "unlikely" to play in New Jersey, although he traveled with the club.

Jeffrey, Bortuzzo and forward Richard Park (broken foot) stayed home. Park is practicing but not ready to play.

With Engelland due back but Martin likely not, the Penguins returned veteran defenseman Alexandre Picard to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League and kept rookie defenseman Simon Despres , who has a power-play goal, three assists and a plus-minus rating of plus-4 in 12 games.

The Penguins also returned forward Jason Williams to the AHL, meaning they will need to dress enforcer Steve MacIntyre or recall someone for the game today to reach the full complement of 12 forwards.

Of goalies and goals ...

Byslma said Marc-Andre Fleury will make his fifth start in a row, ninth in the past 10 games. Martin Brodeur is expected to be in goal for the Devils.

If the right situation arises for one of the goaltenders -- namely a two-goal lead late with an empty net at the other end -- don't be surprised to see an attempt to score a goal.

Fleury and Brodeur have said this week they were motivated by Carolina goalie Cam Ward , who was credited with a goal Monday when New Jersey's Ilya Kovalchuk inadvertently put the puck in his own empty net.

Fleury considered taking a shot Tuesday late in the win against the Hurricanes but backed off because the play was icing, and Brodeur shot for the goal three times Wednesday late in a 3-1 win against Buffalo. One attempt went wide and two were intercepted by the Sabres.

All-Star voting

Sidney Crosby dropped a spot to fourth among forwards in NHL All-Star Game fan balloting, and Kris Letang did the same among defensemen. Both players are out indefinitely because of concussions or related symptoms and might not be available for the Jan. 29 game in Ottawa.

Fleury remains third among goaltenders.

It was the final update before voting ends Wednesday.

Tip-ins

Former Penguins winger Petr Sykora , 35, who signed with New Jersey after attending camp on a tryout, has 10 goals (three of them winners), 21 points in 36 games. He has four goals, seven points in his past six games. ... Devils defenseman Henrik Tallinder , who has missed the past six games because of back spasms, is expected to return today against the Penguins.


For 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 , 412-263-1721 and Twitter @pgshelly .


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