Penguins Notebook: Blueliners playing musical chairs
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PHILADELPHIA -- Defenseman Darryl Sydor sat out the Penguins' game against the Flyers last night at the Wachovia Center.
Not because coach Michel Therrien was unhappy with his play of late, as had been the case when Sydor sat out five games in a row recently, but simply because it was his turn.
With seven defensemen on the Penguins' roster and only six spots available for them on most nights. Therrien has instituted a system under which one of five defensemen -- Sydor, Ryan Whitney, Rob Scuderi, Kris Letang and Brooks Orpik -- will be rotated out of the lineup for each game.
"It's tough to have seven defensemen who are capable of playing," Therrien said.
Veterans Sergei Gonchar and Mark Eaton are exempt from the rotation, Therrien said, because they're routinely matched against the opposition's top players.
Although one defenseman said those five were informed there would be strict adherence to the rotation, Therrien said after yesterday's morning skate that it could be altered if a player's performance merits it.
Center Maxime Talbot and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury are scheduled to have their injured knees examined today, and might have MRIs to assess the damage they sustained last week.
Talbot rode an exercise bike during the Penguins' morning skate yesterday and Fleury walked around the locker room with no apparent problem, but both declined to predict when they might be able to resume playing.
"I don't know," Talbot said. "We'll take it one day at a time."
Talbot, who had been recovering from a high ankle sprain that forced him to miss five games, was hurt late in the Vancouver game. He described his injury as "the same kind of tweak" that resulted in his original sprain.
Fleury was injured early in the Penguins' 3-2 shootout victory in Calgary two nights earlier and remains a bit blurry on the details.
"I don't know if I caught something in the ice," he said. "I just kind of fell backward. I tried to stand up, and it felt awkward."
Former Penguins winger Mark Recchi, claimed by Atlanta on re-entry waivers Saturday, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution he believes Therrien was too quick to remove him from the top line and No. 1 power-play unit.
And that he's intent on proving to a legion of doubters that he still can be productive in the NHL. For more than just the next few months, at that.
"They'll see," Recchi said. "I didn't get 68 points for no reason last year. In the first seven or eight games [this season], I had a point a game until the coach decided to move me down two or three lines for whatever reason. I still haven't figured it out. ...
"I want to play a little longer. This year, another year, a couple years -- I want to put those people who doubt you to rest."
Recchi had five points in the first six games this season, and six in the first eight, but just one in his final 10.
Therrien declined to comment on Recchi's remarks.
Penguins center Sidney Crosby remains the top vote-getter among Eastern Conference players in balloting for the NHL All-Star Game.
He has received 326,131 votes; Montreal defenseman Andrei Markov, who ranks second in the East, has 216,102.
Penguins center Evgeni Malkin is 10th among Eastern forwards with 56,112, while teammate Ryan Whitney stands seventh among defensemen with 89,665.
Crosby was named the 2007 winner of the Lou Marsh Award, which goes to Canada's outstanding athlete, as chosen by a panel of sports editors and broadcasters. ... Flyers winger Simon Gagne, who has missed 16 games this season because of two concussions, has resumed full workouts and is making progress toward a comeback. "This is the first week where I am starting to push myself," he told the Philadelphia Daily News. "And I feel like it's getting better." ... The Penguins will face Ottawa at home at 7:38 p.m. tomorrow before getting back on the road for games at Long Island, New York and Boston.
First Published December 12, 2007 12:00 am