Penguins Notebook: Blue Jackets will be buzzing
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There will be 1,230 regular-season games played in the NHL this season.
It's hard to believe any will be quite like No. 384.
That went into the record book as a 7-2 Penguins victory Dec. 4 against Columbus at Nationwide Arena, although the final score hardly tells the full story of that game.
Not when the Penguins ran off the first five goals.
Not when thousands of their fans pretty much seized control of an opponent's rink, if only because they were the only ones who had reason to cheer.
"That was a little different, I guess," goalie Marc-Andre Fleury said Monday.
"Once, I made a good save, and I heard, 'Flur-ee, Flur-ee,' like in Pittsburgh. That was pretty funny, I thought."
The Blue Jackets, naturally, didn't see it that way.
At the time, Blue Jackets forward R.J. Umberger called the game "embarrassing for myself and my teammates," which might have been an understatement.
However, what happened then might also be a source of motivation tonight when Columbus visits Consol Energy Center.
While the Blue Jackets probably can't hope to replicate what the Penguins did to them two months ago, they can attempt to avenge it.
The Penguins certainly expect them to try.
"Anytime you get beat up like that, you want to get your revenge and do better," Fleury said. "We have to expect that from them."
Then again, the Penguins tend to get the best that most opponents have to offer, regardless of how previous meetings played out.
"Every team gets motivated playing us," forward Max Talbot said.
"I'm sure they're going to come ready to play."
Sidney Crosby hasn't dressed for a game in nearly five weeks, and most indications are that it will be multiple weeks before he does again.
But even though he's not in the Penguins' immediate plans -- the coaching staff is not, for example, trying to figure out who he should have for linemates this weekend -- they aren't preparing for life without Crosby over the long term, either.
How to get by without him for the balance of the regular season and the playoffs hasn't even been discussed by the coaches and front office, even though almost no time frame can be completely ruled out.
"That really has not been a topic of conversation or thought," coach Dan Bylsma said. "When the doctor told us he had a 'mild' concussion, we were not expecting this to last this long. ... But we have not gone down that road."
Crosby has been spending time lately with family members in an undisclosed -- but considerably warmer than Western Pennsylvania -- location and is expected to return in a few days.
"The way it was left with Sidney was that he would return sometime this week," Bylsma said. "There wasn't a definite day. He's in contact with our trainer every other day, just to let him know how he's feeling, and so forth."
Elsewhere on the injury/absentee front, Bylsma said:
• Wingers Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis were given "maintenance days" and excused from practice Monday, but are scheduled to return today. Bylsma suggested they will probably not be on the same line tonight.
• Center Mark Letestu had surgery over the weekend to repair a damaged meniscus and has begun his rehabilitation. The original prognosis that he'll be out for four to six weeks still holds.
• Winger Arron Asham continues to be listed as "day to day" because of an unspecified injury.
• Center Evgeni Malkin, who has torn anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his right knee, is waiting for his knee to "calm down a little bit" before getting follow-up examinations and discovering what options, aside from surgery, he might have.
Defenseman Alex Goligoski, who might be the area's best-known Green Bay fan, said he kept his celebrations of the Packers' Super Bowl victory low-key. "I'm not trying to celebrate or burn anyone or anything," he said. "It was a great game, and I had a lot of fun watching it." ... Umberger, a Plum native, is coming off a two-goal, two-assist performance in a 4-3 victory Saturday against Edmonton.
First Published February 8, 2011 12:00 am