Penguins' Jason Williams does not play after recall from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton
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In something of a surprise Friday, the Penguins recalled forward Jason Williams from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, although he did not dress for their game against Montreal at Consol Energy Center.
Apparently, it was an insurance move.
"Really [it's] just an indication that we don't have any extra players [at forward]," coach Dan Bylsma said, although he hinted that one of the Penguins was questionable for the Canadiens game. In fact, the Penguins went with the same lineup they had the previous night for a 4-1 win against the Rangers in New York.
They remain without three forwards -- captain Sidney Crosby (concussion), Jordan Staal (knee) and Arron Asham (concussion).
Crosby remains in Atlanta, where Bylsma said he is working out under the supervision of concussion specialist Ted Carrick .
Asked whether he expects Crosby to play before the end of the season, Bylsma said: "I'm certainly hopeful that he will continue to get better and be alleviated of some of the symptoms he is having. Hopefully, he'll be back with us whenever that may be, although we don't have a timetable for it."
The Rangers' Brad Richards was angry over a hit Thursday by Matt Cooke , calling it a "slew-foot" and a "cheap play."
Cooke was not penalized, and the NHL did not take any action, something Bylsma was quick to point out.
"Richards called it a slew-foot; the league has not called it that and has not seen it that way," Bylsma said. "They look at every play, and maybe a little more attention because Matt Cooke's name is associated with it. But the league didn't see any reason to back up the accusation that it was a slew-foot."
Cooke, who has a reputation for hitting hard and, perhaps, hitting dirty, has cleaned up his game this season. He had just 14 penalty minutes going into the Friday night game.
The Canadiens entered the game 13th in the Eastern Conference, 10 points below the playoff line.
Defenseman Hal Gill said that, as a member of the 2009 Penguins Stanley Cup champions, he learned how much things can change down the stretch. Those Penguins stared at the possibility of missing the playoffs well into February.
"I've been in that situation before where you're against it, time isn't on your side, and somehow you win a game, you win a game and next thing you know you're back in the fight," Gill said. "I think that's what the focus has to be."
He dismissed calls from some fans for the Canadiens to chuck this season and concentrate on the future.
"I don't think that's an option," Gill said. "I think you go out and play one game, try and do everything you can to get that win, then go on to the next game. "I don't think you can look long-term. It's an uphill battle, but you've got to take one step at a time."
Gill played a season-low 8 minutes, 55 seconds Wednesday in Montreal's 3-0 loss against Washington, leading to speculation he could be on the cusp of being a healthy scratch, but he remains resilient.
"We've been playing seven [defensemen] and trying to put guys in and play to their strengths," he said. "It's tough to play less minutes, but it's part of the game. I'm trying to do my job the best I can and be ready when I'm called on."
Things have no doubt been stressful for Randy Cunneyworth since he took over as Montreal's coach Dec. 17, but he took a moment to remember fondly his time playing with the Penguins and Hall of Fame center-turned-owner Mario Lemieux .
"He helped me out a great deal. He allowed me to get some pretty good numbers," said Cunneyworth, who had 101 goals, 216 points in 295 games over four seasons with the Penguins ending in 1998-89.
"I always tell the story of when two guys jumped on [Lemieux's] back, I always followed him and put in a couple of [his] rebounds."
First Published January 21, 2012 12:00 am