Penguins Notebook: Usual trade deadline day tension missing


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The NHL trade deadline is at 3 p.m. today and, if precedent holds, Penguins general manager Ray Shero will continue looking into possible additions to his roster pretty much until time runs out.

Even so, the usual undercurrent of uncertainty in the locker room -- the inevitable byproduct of who might still be on the payroll by the time the deadline passes -- seems to be missing this season.

Oh, there has been conversation about deals that might be made but, for the most part, those discussions have focused on possible moves by other teams, not the Penguins.

"I don't think there's much concern about [trades involving the Penguins], at all," left winger Matt Cooke said a few hours before the game Tuesday night against Buffalo at Consol Energy Center.

Although Shero is believed to be open at least to the idea of bolstering his fourth line, the acquisitions of Jarome Iginla, Brenden Morrow and Douglas Murray last week went a long way toward transforming today from Deadline Day to plain old Wednesday for most of his players.

"Our organization has made a statement, gone out and gotten the guys they wanted early," Cooke said. "[There's] not necessarily relief, but that brings a calmness."

Most seasons, the locker-room tension in the days leading up to the deadline seems almost palpable.

It hasn't been that way among the Penguins this year.

"A lot of years, there is, and a lot of teams I've been on in the past, there has been," center Brandon Sutter said.

"Especially when you're a team where, you're not sure where you're going to finish.

"But I think that after the past week, with bringing in a few new faces, I think it's pretty safe to say that guys are a little more relaxed about it this year. I don't think we expect a whole lot to go on, obviously."

Niskanen on Crosby ...

No one knows precisely when Sidney Crosby, who coach Dan Bylsma said was discharged from the hospital Monday, will return to the lineup or whether he will be compelled to wear a full cage, not just his usual visor, to protect his surgically repaired jaw.

But if he does put one on, Penguins defenseman Matt Niskanen does not believe it will affect Crosby as much as some might expect.

Sure, Crosby will look a little different with the cage on, and he might see things a bit differently for a while, but Niskanen -- who wore a cage while playing college hockey at Minnesota-Duluth -- said it isn't a major impediment.

"Guys complain about it, but the reality is that you can see fine," he said.

"There are lots of good players who have worn cages when they were young, and they could see just fine.

"Sid made unbelievable passes when he wore a cage [before reaching the NHL], so he'll be just fine.

"It is different. It might take him two day, four days, maybe a week. But, once you get going, I don't think it's going to be that big of an issue."

Bennett can return now

The NHL's 23-man limit on active rosters expires today, so the Penguins will be free to summon rookie forward Beau Bennett from their minor league team in Wilkes-Barre without worrying about having too many bodies on hand.

Bennett, sent to the Baby Penguins last week to open a roster spot, has played 19 games in the NHL this season, recording two goals and seven assists.

Vokoun's season not a shock

Tomas Vokoun took a franchise-record shutout streak of 162 minutes, 42 seconds into the Buffalo game, when he made this third consecutive start.

Vokoun struggled through the early part of the season, but rebounded well, which is something Bylsma said has long been part of his history.

"Talking with the coaches who have had him before, teams that have had him before, one of the things Tomas has been able to do is to come back after tough situations or bad games," he said.

Vokoun was 10-3, with three shutouts (not counting the one he shared with Marc-Andre Fleury), a 2.33 goals-against average and .922 save percentage before facing the Sabres.

Tip-ins

The Penguins scratched Crosby, center Joe Vitale and defenseman Robert Bortuzzo. ... Injured defenseman Kris Letang skated with conditioning coach Mike Kadar Tuesday morning, but did not take part in the game-day skate. ... Pirates catcher Russell Martin, a native of Quebec, attended the game-day skates and interviewed French-speaking members of the Penguins and Sabres for RDS, a French-language network.

penguins

Staff writer Shelly Anderson contributed. Dave Molinari: Dmolinari@Post-Gazette.com and Twitter @MolinariPG. First Published April 3, 2013 4:00 AM


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