Penguins Notebook: Christensen likely to miss tomorrow's game
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Forward Erik Christensen has rejoined with the Penguins, but it apparently will be at least two more days before he gets back into the lineup.
Christensen sat out a 4-1 road victory Thursday against Tampa Bay because of illness, then missed the next two games after his grandfather died. Now, he has a viral infection that kept him from practicing yesterday and likely will prevent him from dressing for tomorrow's home game against the Lightning.
Coach Michel Therrien said he expects Christensen to practice today and to be available for Saturday's game in Montreal.
Forward Jeff Taffe did not practice yesterday after having a minor surgical procedure on his neck, but Therrien said he should be able to participate today and play against the Lightning.
Hospital visits are a community service staple for many teams, and players invariably are touched by the patients with whom they visit -- especially when they're children.
But visits like the one the Penguins made to Children's Hospital yesterday tend to leave an even more lasting impression on the guys who have added fatherhood to their resumes.
"I definitely look at it differently," said defenseman Rob Scuderi, a father of two. "Nobody likes to see sick kids, certainly -- hopefully, they'll all pull through and they all do well -- but once you have your own, it just becomes that much more of a blessing that, hey, they're happy and they're healthy."
The Penguins figure to face a highly motivated -- or totally demoralized -- Tampa Bay team tomorrow.
Lightning coach John Tortorella called an 8 a.m. practice yesterday in the wake of his team's 3-0 loss Tuesday night to Colorado. And he told reporters the boos the St. Pete Times Forum crowd directed at his team did not do justice to the Lightning's performance.
"I would have thrown [stuff] at the team, not boo the team," he said. "At us. I'm part of them. ... It's probably the most embarrassed and disappointed I have been since I've been here with them."
The Lightning is 3-10-2 in its past 15 games and last in the Eastern Conference.
Tampa Bay's top line, which features Vincent Lecavalier between Vaclav Prospal and Martin St. Louis, has not produced a goal in three games.
Even more surprising, Lecavalier, who led the NHL in scoring a week ago, has been shut out in those games, his worst such slump since going four games without a point Nov. 11-27, 2005.
Tortorella plugged Brad Richards into Lecavalier's spot on the top line in the Colorado game, putting Lecavalier between Jason Ward and Jan Hlavac. No matter who he plays with tomorrow, Lecavalier figures to be intent on getting back on the scoresheet.
"I definitely want to bounce back next game," he told the Tampa Tribune. "I'm here to produce. I'm here to help the team get some points on the board. So, it is frustrating, but I have to stay positive and play hard next game."
Therrien, reacting to rookies Tyler Kennedy and Kris Letang being selected for the YoungStars game that is part of the NHL's all-star festivities: "There are only a few teams that are going to send two kids out there, and we're one of them." ... Therrien said there are no immediate plans to return defenseman Ryan Lannon or forward Ryan Stone to the Penguins' minor-league team in Wilkes-Barre. Both were recalled as injury insurance before a three-game road trip last week.
First Published January 17, 2008 12:00 am