Penguins notebook: Penalty-kill doesn’t miss a beat with fill-ins
December 2, 2013 10:41 PM
The Penguins' Simon Despres fights for the puck against the Islanders' Casey Cizikas.
By Seth Rorabaugh / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Injuries have tested the Penguins’ depth in all areas this season.
In recent weeks, no part of the team has been hit as hard as the penalty-killing unit, which has lost defensemen Rob Scuderi and Paul Martin and left winger Tanner Glass.
The past three games, forwards Andrew Ebbett and Jayson Megna and defenseman Simon Despres, all recalled from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton last week, have gotten work while the Penguins have been short-handed. The Penguins have killed eight of the 10 power plays they have faced in that span.
“We’ve had to call up guys — [forwards] Zach Sill, Jayson Megna, Brian Gibbons, as well — to step in and penalty-kill in a top-four or five role on our team,” coach Dan Bylsma said.
“They’ve come up and been doing an excellent job for guys that have been injured. I think one of the things that gets overlooked a little bit is the penalty-kill, in terms of consistency in our organization. Those guys have to be comfortable, have to be ready to step in and they have.”
Martin and Scuderi, two of the team’s better shot-blockers, have been particularly difficult to replace.
“The back end of the penalty-kill, we have a number of capable guys to step in in the case of injury,” Byslma said. “Rob Scuderi and Paul Martin, probably two of our better penalty-kill guys, have been out for 10 games at a time.
“Simon has come right up and stepped in there. I think [rookie defenseman] Olli Maatta has grown into a penalty-killing role more than he had at the beginning of the year.”
In Saturday’s 5-1 victory at Florida, Despres logged 3:25 of short-handed ice time.
“I know the system,” Despres said. “I know the players’ tendencies. It’s an easy transition for me to come back and help the team win.
“I’ve been on working on the [penalty-kill] a lot in the minors. They asked me to step up on the [penalty-kill]. It’s fun to get that chance to play on the penalty-kill.”
The Penguins don’t want to deviate from their usual structure on the penalty-kill because of the personnel changes.
“You can’t go out and kill a penalty and do something differently because [Martin] is not there or [Scuderi] is not there,” winger Craig Adams said.
“Obviously, it’s been the guys who have come in there and picked up those minutes. I think [defenseman Kris Letang] has been really good. It’s the guys that have come in and done a good job.”
Guerin enters U.S. Hall
Bill Guerin, a member of the Penguins’ Stanley Cup-winning team in 2009 and currently the club’s player development coach, was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Monday night at a ceremony in Detroit.
Other members of the class of 2013 are Peter Karmanos Jr., Ron Mason, Doug Weight and Cindy Curley.
Guerin, who also won a Stanley Cup with New Jersey in 1995, represented the U.S. in seven major international competitions — three Olympics, two World Cups of Hockey and two world junior championships.
His team won the 1996 World Cup and earned a silver medal at the 2002 Olympics.
Guerin said that induction to the U.S. Hall of Fame ranks among his most satisfying achievements.
“You always have the Stanley Cups and the medals and things like that,” he said. “This is really high up there.
“This is one thing that happens, that you don’t go for. You don’t set out to say, ‘I’m going to do this.’ You say, ‘I’m going to win a Stanley Cup,’ or ‘I’m going to try to win a medal.’
“This is something you don’t set out for. It just happens. And that’s why it’s really special.”
Forward Chuck Kobasew returned to practice. He is on injured reserve and has missed the past 16 games with an undisclosed injury. … Center Evgeni Malkin was named the NHL’s No. 1 star of the week for the second consecutive week. He is second in the scoring race with 35 points and trails only Sidney Crosby (36). … Defense prospect Derrick Pouliot, a first-round draft choice in 2012, was named to Canada’s selection camp roster for the IIHF world junior championships. Erie Otters center Connor McDavid also was selected.
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