Penguins Notebook: Bostonian Whitney gets Super taunting
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NEWARK, N.J. -- Penguins defenseman Ryan Whitney is a Massachusetts native and unabashed fan of the Boston Red Sox and New England Patriots.
Predictably, he acknowledged being "pretty shocked" by the Patriots' last-minute loss to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl Sunday.
But while Whitney understandably was disappointed about the outcome, that apparently wasn't a common reaction among his teammates.
"It was tough," he said. "I watched with the whole team [at its New Jersey hotel]. They were all rooting for the Giants."
At least until New York pulled out the victory, at which the players put their efforts into taunting Whitney.
"I got plenty of [abuse from teammates]," he said. "Enough to last for a year."
Devils center Travis Zajac entered last night's game against the Penguins at the Prudential Center with seven goals in 12 career meetings with them, an average of one goal every 1.7 games.
He has 22 goals in 120 games against the rest of the league, or roughly one every 5.5 games.
Zajac said he can't explain his success against the Penguins, but he isn't going to complain about it, either.
"Some teams you just match up against them well," he said. "In my case, I'm just getting lucky against Pittsburgh and scoring some goals. I'll take it."
Coach Michel Therrien said center Kris Beech, acquired on waivers from Washington last month, is scheduled to play his first game with the Penguins Thursday, when the New York Islanders visit Mellon Arena.
With Beech still getting in game shape and Adam Hall recovering from a groin injury, the Penguins recalled left winger Ryan Stone from their minor-league team in Wilkes-Barre to fill a hole on the fourth line.
Although Stone's promotion figures to be a short-term move, Therrien said no decision on returning him to the Baby Penguins has been made.
"We'll see," he said. "It depends on how he plays."
Stone spent about 21/2 weeks with the Penguins last month, but did not get a point in four games.
The Devils have removed mandatory morning skates from their game day routine.
That's partly because first-year coach Brent Sutter doesn't care much for them -- "I've never been a big pregame skate fan, even when I played," he said -- but mostly because New Jersey players told him they don't believe the skates are necessary.
Even though Sutter's authority is unquestioned, it's clear that he values input from the guys who work for him.
"You have to put your faith and trust in the players and what they feel and think," he said. "It doesn't matter what level you're at, you have to trust your players.
"When I was in junior, I trusted the players I coached there. We did everything we could to treat them like pros and let them make decisions sometimes, like men have to.
"If you don't trust your players, you're in trouble. You're headed for disaster, as far as the team is concerned. Players have to trust in you, and you have to trust in them."
Penguins right winger Tyler Kennedy practiced for the first time since being diagnosed with mononucleosis, but Therrien declined to predict when he might be able to play. ... Devils winger Jay Pandolfo returned to the lineup after missing 28 games because of an abdominal injury. Pandolfo damaged the cartilage and ligament attached to his pubic bone when he slammed into the end boards Nov. 28.
First Published February 5, 2008 12:00 am