Penguins center Joe Vitale maintains a particular perspective when it comes to his place in the NHL.
"There's a lot of skill, a lot of talent in this league," he said Friday after practice at Southpointe. "God hasn't given me the most talent as far as that goes, so I feel like I have to work harder to kind of keep up and stand out a little bit.
"It's been a good mentality so far. I've got a lot of work ahead of me."
The Penguins have rewarded Vitale with a two-year contract extension, through the 2013-14 season. It's a one-way deal with a salary cap-hit of $550,000 per season. He is making $512,500 this season.
Vitale, a third- or fourth-liner, has three goals, 10 points in 44 games. Although his playing time averages a little more than 11 minutes a game, and he has been a healthy scratch here and there, he's noticeable because of his speed, tenacity and physical play.
He has 63 hits, 24 blocked shots.
Matchup: Penguins vs. Boston Bruins, 1:08 p.m. today, TD Garden, Boston.
TV, Radio: Root Sports, WXDX-FM (105.9).
Probable goaltenders: Marc-Andre Fleury for Penguins. Tim Thomas for Bruins.
Penguins: Are 6-6 vs. Northeast Division. ... James Neal (214), Evgeni Malkin (210) remain 1-2 in shots in NHL. ... Are 24-16-3 without Sidney Crosby.
Bruins: Are 8-1-1 vs. Atlantic Division. ... Tyler Seguin led NHL with plus-30 before the games Friday. ... Have been shut out three times, all at home.
Hidden stat: Boston's Benoit Pouliot has eight goals, half are game-winning goals.
He also leads the team by winning 55.9 percent of his faceoffs and has gotten sniffs of time as a penalty-killer. Friday, he practiced as a penalty-killer against the top power-play unit.
Vitale, 26, a seventh-round pick in the '05 draft, played his first nine NHL games last season and made the roster out of training camp this season.
He was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent July 1 but is relieved to have worked out a deal.
"They wanted to do something sooner rather than later, and, as a player, you want to get things done sooner rather than later, too," he said.
"It's no fun in the summertime when you don't know what's going on, especially with a family. If there are a lot of unknowns, you don't feel good as a father and a husband."
Center Cal O'Reilly has taken a crash course in all things Penguins since he was claimed from Phoenix off re-entry waivers Wednesday.
"I've learned stuff in a quick couple of days," he said after participating in his first practice with his new club. "It's an aggressive style. The more aggressive it is, the easier it is because the harder you go and the more you learn to understand and read off of each other."
Coach Dan Bylsma said O'Reilly will play at some point on the road trip that begins today at Boston, continues Sunday afternoon at New Jersey and concludes Tuesday night at Montreal. O'Reilly skated at practice on a line with wingers Steve Sullivan and Tyler Kennedy.
"I played with [Sullivan] in Nashville, so maybe they'll see if there's chemistry there," O'Reilly said.
"It's a bit more of an offensive line," Bylsma said. "And we're looking to work him into the second power play."
O'Reilly, 25, has played all 107 of his NHL games with Western Conference teams. He will soon be immersed in the Eastern Conference because eight of the next 10 games are intraconference.
"I'm excited to get into those rivalries -- Philly, Boston, all those teams," he said.
Centers Sidney Crosby (neck, concussion symptoms) and Jordan Staal (knee) and defenseman Simon Despres (knee) traveled with the Penguins, but it doesn't appear any of the three injured players will play in the three games.
Crosby skated before practice with conditioning coach Mike Kadar. Staal and Despres had off-ice workouts, Bylsma said, and those two could join practice sometime next week.
Forward Arron Asham continues to deal with concussion symptoms, Bylsma said.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org , 412-263-1721 and Twitter @pgshelly. First Published February 4, 2012 5:00 AM