Penguins notebook: Neal’s status tonight unclear


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Penguins right winger James Neal, who missed practice for a second day in a row, has an undisclosed injury, coach Dan Bylsma said.

Neal is considered day to day and has not been ruled out of playing tonight when the Washington Capitals visit Consol Energy Center.

There were no other new injuries, and no one who has missed games recently has been cleared to play — although that could happen before the game tonight.

The only other update was that right winger Pascal Dupuis has not yet had surgery for a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.

Dupuis was injured Dec. 23 and was expected to have an operation within a couple of weeks but it has been delayed.

“There needs to be healing in one aspect of his knee before they can move ahead with the surgery,” Bylsma said.

Injuries left the Penguins with just 10 full-time forwards at practice.

Brandon Sutter, usually the third-line center, filled in at right wing on the top line with Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz. Taylor Pyatt, a third-line winger since he joined the team earlier this month, filled in at Neal’s spot on the second line with Evgeni Malkin and Jussi Jokinen.

Bortuzzo cleared to play

The Penguins have been notified that there will be no supplemental or further discipline for defenseman Robert Bortuzzo, and he is cleared to play tonight.

Bortuzzo received a match penalty Saturday at 7:04 of the third period in the Penguins’ 2-1 win at Calgary after he hit Flames captain Mark Giordano. The NHL reviews all such plays.

“I’ve been told there’s no supplemental discipline,” Bortuzzo said. “Happy to hear [that] and move on.”

Bortuzzo was not happy with the call, but he understands the situation, where it initially looked as if he hit Giordano in the head rather than the shoulder.

“I guess you put the refs in a tough position, and they reacted. It was tough,” he said. “It was not fun getting [ejected] from the game, but you just roll with it.”

Drazenovic latest fill-in

Although the Penguins could get reinforcements tonight if players return from injury, the team recalled forward Nick Drazenovic from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League.

“I was walking my dog. I saw my coach [John Hynes] was calling. I knew it was either a trade or a call-up,” said Drazenovic.

He has played 11 NHL games with St. Louis and Columbus, with no points, and more than likely will make his Penguins debut tonight. Drazenovic arrived at Consol Energy Center, found that his locker stall was next to star center Sidney Crosby’s and practiced with the club — all on his 27th birthday.

“I was really excited for this [call-up],” he said.

“It’s pretty neat. I’ve always looked up to the Pittsburgh Penguins as being a top team in the NHL.

“And sitting beside Sid is quite incredible.”

Drazenovic, who missed a couple of weeks earlier this season because of injury, had seven goals, 20 points in 26 games for Wilkes-Barre. He has played primarily center this season but also has pro experience on the wing.

He noted that because of a long list of Penguins injuries at the NHL level, Wilkes-Barre also has had a roster in flux this season.

Yet the Baby Penguins are 22-11-1-3.

“Kudos to the Penguins organization to have so many players that can step in and contribute,” Drazenovic said. “The organization is so deep. We have guys stepping in from Wheeling [of the ECHL]. All three teams play the same system, so guys step in pretty seamlessly.”

To make room on the roster, the Penguins placed center Joe Vitale (wrist injury) on injured reserve.


Shelly Anderson: shanderson@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1721 and Twitter @pgshelly.

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