Joe Vitale, center, battles the Boston Bruins' David Krejci, left, and Matt Bartkowski for the puck in the first period in Boston on Dec. 7.
Shelly Anderson: Lots to discuss on the Penguins chat today. Submit your questions beforehand or when we go live at 2:30 Eastern.
Guest: Hi Shelly, What is your opinion regarding Crosby? I know, he is a great player, very talented, but I also see, that when he can't obtain the result he starts to cheating. You know a lot of diving on the early stage of his career, and cheap-shots like slashing, tripping and so on now. But at really tough moments he just disappearing. Can such captain lead the team to another Stanley Cup. In 2009 Gerin was the leader, but who is that guy now?
Shelly Anderson: I flat-out disagree with much of your premise, so it’s difficult to respond. Have you seen Sidney Crosby’s clutch goals and plays lately? As for his leadership, my observation is that he has great respect from his teammates. He’s not the same personality type as Bill Guerin, but that’s not required to be an effective leader, and there is little doubt this is his team.
nellieh: Hi, Shelly! Two if I may. Where does the assault on Orpik rank in ugliness of previous thuggery? And is there a coach, with the exception of Tortorella, with a fouler mouth than Julien?
Shelly Anderson: Can't say I've really thought about ranking such things. What happened to Eric Tangradi in that farce of a game on Long Island a couple of years ago stands out, I suppose.
As for Claude Julien, I was not in Boston Saturday but have had occasion to be in interview situations involving him several times, including the playoffs last spring. I have not experienced him being overly foul-mouthed.
dave: When a player is put on short-term IR instead of long-term IR, is that an indication that his injury is not serious?
Shelly Anderson: It can be. Regular injured reserve requires a player miss a week. Long-term injured reserve requires a player to miss 10 games and 24 days and allows a team to go over the salary cap during this time, according to the players' cap hit. Of course, a player can be reassigned from IR to LTIR.
Ty: Do you think that we will hear/see James Neal being held to a higher standard by the Penguins soon? With Matt Cooke, they were vocal to the public about how they had to essentially "change his game", will they do the same for Neal? I don't think you can afford to pay a guy of his caliber that salary, knowing that at any moment he can make a huge mistake where you end up losing him for a number of games.
Shelly Anderson: This isn't James Neal's first time receiving supplemental discipline. Most recently before today's five-game suspension, he was suspended during the first round of the 2012 playoffs. The Penguins certainly expect that Neal will refrain from acts that leave him susceptible to suspensions, but it's difficult to compare him with Matt Cooke. Very different types of players.
Charles: Could we see Brian Doumoulin in next few weeks?
Shelly Anderson: As we have reported, the 22-year-old defenseman has been recalled, took part in today's morning skate and could be in the lineup tonight against Columbus. However, coach Dan Bylsma indicated that Robert Bortuzzo, a healthy scratch a lot lately, will play, so it's not certain that Dumoulin will dress. Dumoulin was set back a little in his development by an injury that forced him to miss most of Penguins training camp, but he's been playing well at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and said he has concentrated on improving defensively.
Elisa: Hi Shelly :) How much do you think the Penguins will rely on Kris Letang now to be stronger defensively with Orpik, Martin and Scuderi out?
Shelly Anderson: A lot, and Matt Niskanen, too. Each of those players addressed that with reporters today. They know their responsibilities have increased, and they are fine with that.
Dan: Will we see Scuderi and Glass before the end of December? When was the last time we saw such a streak of bad injuries -- this is getting crazy!
Shelly Anderson: Defenseman Rob Scuderi -- whose left ankle was broken Oct. 26, requiring surgery -- could be back at practice as soon as this week. He's been skating separately from the team, including today, and has been walking around with no crutches or boot or brace or even a wrap. So, yes, he could be back by the end of the month. Tanner Glass also has been skating. Coming off of a broken right hand, strength and maneuverability will be big issues. Perhaps he can be back by the end of the month, though. The Penguins' record is outstanding considering the injury situation. I would expect Evgeni Malkin to return tonight. If not, the team will be without eight players who would be among the 20 regulars to dress for a game -- Scuderi, Paul Martin, Brooks Orpik, Beau Bennett, Glass, Neal, Malkin and Tomas Vokoun.
john: Any idea which one of the 7 def sit tonight?
Shelly Anderson: As noted earlier, Dan Bylsma indicated that Robert Bortuzzo will play, so guessing either Dumoulin or Engelland sit.
Nat: Does anyone (players, trainers,...) seem outright upset with Neal and his awful hit on Marchand? I very much hope it's not something that gets shrugged off now that he got suspended
Shelly Anderson: It was telling that after the game Saturday, Bylsma noted that Neal did not make an attempt to avoid hitting Marchand. The players certainly aren't thrilled about it, but as far as I know none offered sharp criticism. They walk a line -- they want to support their teammates, but they don't always support every action of every player.
Tyler: This team really seems to lack at scoring depth on the current roster and in the minors. Will we be seeing any defenseman or prospects moving in the near future to address this need for offensive depth?
Shelly Anderson: Well, at some point they will be getting Beau Bennett back from a broken hand/wrist. Calls for a scoring winger have been out there for ages. But they are averaging more than three goals a game even with some injuries, and that ranks around sixth in the NHL. They also are winning. If there aren't sensible deals to be made, it's OK if a handful of big guns get the majority of offense.
Dan: Can you explain what the difference between Thornton/Orpik and Burtuzzi/Moore situation is. They seem the same to me.
Shelly Anderson: The incident Saturday night seemed more organic, spur-of-the-moment, while Todd Bertuzzi's attack-from-behind that ended Steve Moore's career seemed more premeditated. No place in sports for either, in my opinion.
JamesinNYC: What is the prognosis on Malkin? Neal was stupid, but not sure malicious on that play he was looking away from where he was skating. That said how much will history between the two make him guilty with Shanahan?
Shelly Anderson: Malkin was at the game-day skate, participated in line rushes and on the power play in his normal spot and probably will return tonight after missing two games. The NHL's Brendan Shanahan, in his video explanation of Neal's five-game suspension, indicated that the league believes Neal was looking at Brad Marchand, lined up his skate and extended his leg in an attempt to deliver the knee to the head.
Dan: What does Bylsma see in Engelland that he doesn't see in Bortuzzo?
Shelly Anderson: Not really sure. Both are physical. Bortuzzo is bigger and younger and probably the better "hockey player" between the two. Both are willing to fight. Engelland has been on the roster longer and might have the trust of the coaching staff a little more. Also, sometimes it's a matter of a player having an off game or making a mistake, leading to a lineup change, and then the staff doesn't see a reason to make another change right away, particularly if the team is winning.
Shelly Anderson: Wow. Ran through a lot of questions. Any last one or two in the final five minutes?
Tyler: Dupuis is on pace for 41 points this season, will the Penguins look back on his extension as a success if he can maintain that? Certainly he brings more to the team than just his offensive game as well.
Shelly Anderson: You're right that he brings a lot, including penalty-killing and a comfort level playing on the top line with Sidney Crosby. He probably needs to score more, though, since he set his own bar fairly high.
dave: Why is Malkin's performance so dependent on Neal? Seems like he's talented enough that he should be productive with almost anybody.
Shelly Anderson: Chemistry and comfort level mean a lot to some players. With others, it's pretty easy to fit in with an assortment of linemates. Malkin and Neal just know what to expect from each other and have the talent to complement one another. Chris Kunitz played well on that line, too, but Malkin and Neal seem to do best together.
Dan: I read today that the salary cap could jump to 70-71 million. How do you think this will impact the Pens decisions moving into next offseason?
Shelly Anderson: I think mostly they will be highly relieved given the big contract extensions they have doled out recently.
Shelly Anderson: OK, everyone. Thanks much. Who knows what drama lies ahead in the next seven days. Whatever it is, we'll discuss it next Monday.
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