Penguins notebook: Defenseman unlikely to play against Flyers

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It was a bit of a surprise when Penguins defenseman Paul Martin wasn’t able to dress for the game Saturday in St. Louis.

Perhaps it won’t be if Martin, who has an unspecified injury, isn’t in the lineup when Philadelphia visits Consol Energy Center Wednesday.

He did not participate in their practice Monday at Southpointe, and coach Dan Bylsma said “it’s a possibility” that Martin won’t play against the Flyers.

Before the game Saturday, Bylsma had described Martin as “probable” to participate.

His absence would be significant, because Martin averages a team-leading 25 minutes, 51 seconds of ice time — that’s 81 seconds more than Kris Letang, who ranks second — and is a fixture on special teams.

Martin wasn’t the only player who sat out Monday’s practice.

Left winger Tanner Glass, who ranks second in the NHL with 72 hits, was given a “maintenance day” — generally the language used when a player is given a day off to deal with general bumps and bruises — but there’s no indication he will not be able to dress for the Flyers game.

Two wingers, James Neal and Beau Bennett, returned Saturday from extended absences. Both took a regular shift — Neal played 17:02, Bennett 11:03 — and both were able to get through an entire practice Monday with no apparent problem.

“I felt better than I thought I would [after the game in St. Louis],” Neal said. “I played that full game — played a little more than I expected — and I felt good.”

With Glass and Martin missing, the personnel combinations looked like this:

Chris Kunitz-Sidney Crosby-Pascal Dupuis.

Jussi Jokinen-Evgeni Malkin-Neal.

Bennett-Brandon Sutter-Matt D’Agostini.

Dustin Jeffrey/Jayson Megna-Joe Vitale-Craig Adams.

Brooks Orpik-Deryk Engelland.

Olli Maatta-Letang.

Robert Bortuzzo-Matt Niskanen.

Playing time for D’Agostini

D’Agostini, signed as a free agent in the summer, made just his third appearance of the season Saturday, logging nine minutes, 47 seconds of ice time against St. Louis. He was credited with one hit and a shot.

“That was his best game, what he provided,” Bylsma said. “I thought he did a number of good things. I thought it was a good game from him.”

D’Agostini missed the early weeks of the season because of an undisclosed injury that had forced him to sit out much of training camp and, after dressing for games in Toronto and Carolina, was a healthy scratch for four consecutive games before the Penguins faced the Blues.

D’Agostini said he “felt good, physically” against St. Louis, but wouldn’t speculate on how much time he might need to get truly comfortable with the Penguins.

“That’s tough to say,” he said. “It’s been a tough start. I’m just trying, game-by-game, to get my feet under me more and more. Hopefully, I keep progressing.”

Scoring drought

Several of the most prominent forwards take extended goal-less streaks into the Flyers game.

Malkin doesn’t have a goal in 10 games. Crosby has gone seven without one. Dupuis, the first-line right winger, owns an 11-game drought.

Bylsma said that when a skilled player is struggling to find the net, he doesn’t necessarily try to do additional coaching — “It depends on each player,” he said — but that “there are certain areas where we can do better” as a team to enhance the chances of those guys scoring.

Specifically, he mentioned getting more bodies to the net and upgrading their neutral-zone transitions.

Dave Molinari: and Twitter @MolinariPG.

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