Penguins notebook: Crosby in Stamkos' corner

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The injury was gruesome.

It was awful for Tampa Bay center Steven Stamkos, whose right tibia was fractured when he slammed into a goalpost Monday in Boston.

It was terrible for the Lightning, which had a world-class talent wrenched from its lineup.

It was horrible for the sport, whose fans will be denied a chance to watch one of its most entertaining talents.

But it was not, Penguins center Sidney Crosby believes, a lethal blow to Stamkos’ career.

He likely doesn’t have access to inside information on Stamkos’ prognosis, but Crosby seems convinced that Stamkos will be able to elevate his game to its customary level after his leg heals.

“The way he works — that’s not taking away anything from the severity of the injury because it looked pretty bad from what I saw — but with his work ethic, the way he trains and the way he competes, I think he’ll be OK,” Crosby said.

Stamkos had successful surgery Tuesday at Massachusetts General Hospital to repair the damage, and precisely what the surgeons found might have an impact on how long he is out.

All concerned agreed that his recovery period will be measured in months; what isn’t known is how many.

“If the operation goes well, I don’t think there’s any doubt that he comes back,” Penguins defenseman Matt Niskanen said. “Does he have the same explosiveness, his same confidence level, things like that?

“I don’t think he’s been hurt that much, so we’ll see how he reacts to that. There are a lot of variables, coming back from a tough injury like that, where you miss an extended amount of time and are trying to get back up to speed.

“But, from everything I’ve heard about him, he’s got unbelievable character and will and work ethic … he’s got all the tools to come back from something like that.”

Martin unlikely to face Flyers

Defenseman Paul Martin and left winger Tanner Glass sat out practice Tuesday, although both skated before their teammates worked out.

Coach Dan Bylsma said Glass is “probable” to play against Philadelphia tonight, but the outlook isn’t as good for Martin, who hasn’t played since last Wednesday because of an undisclosed injury.

“I don’t have a large probability for him playing [against the Flyers]” Bylsma said.

Rookie defenseman Olli Maatta missed workouts Tuesday while attending to an immigration matter, but Bylsma said he was aware of no complications and reiterated that he expects Maatta to be in the lineup tonight.

Ice nice, if not great

The Penguins returned to Consol Energy Center for the first time Tuesday since beating Columbus Nov. 1.

And, while the ice, which gets lukewarm reviews most of the time, certainly didn’t benefit from being covered for a week and a half while the circus was in town, neither was it as bad as many players seemed to anticipate.

“It was the first time the ice has been skated on, so it always feels a little funny,” center Brandon Sutter said. “But I think that after a skate or two, hopefully it will be good by [tonight].”

Defenseman Deryk Engelland also reported no particular issues with the ice.

“It wasn’t too bad, actually,” he said.

“I wasn’t really paying too much attention but, from what I can remember, [the puck] wasn’t bouncing any more than normal, or anything like that.”

Abrupt shift in schedule

Although the schedule has been pretty light lately — the Penguins have played four games in the past 13 days — the pace is about to pick up considerably.

The game tonight starts a stretch in which they will play 11 games in an 18-day span that runs through the end of November.

What’s more, four of the next six games will be against Metropolitan Division opponents; the Penguins have played just six of their first 17 games inside the division.


Dave Molinari: Dmolinari@post-gazette.com and Twitter @MolinariPG.

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