Penguins Notebook: Eaton's return for playoffs unlikely
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Penguins defenseman Mark Eaton, who is recovering from reconstructive knee surgery, is scheduled to have an MRI this week.
The results could let Eaton know whether it's realistic to believe his recovery has progressed well enough that he has a realistic shot of being able to play sometime before the end of the Stanley Cup playoffs, which would run as late as June 9.
But even if Eaton is physically capable of returning at some point, there's no guarantee the Penguins will have a spot available for him.
"[Darryl] Sydor can't get in the lineup right now," general manager Ray Shero said yesterday. "For Mark to have missed all that time ..."
Shero acknowledged that he hadn't gotten an update on Eaton's condition in a few days, but suggested that targeting these playoffs for a comeback might be unduly optimistic.
"I think he's pushing the envelope a little bit right now anyway, in terms of a timetable," Shero said.
Eaton was injured Dec. 23, when Boston forward Marco Sturm knocked his legs out from under him during a game at Mellon Arena.
replaced Adam Hall in the Penguins' lineup for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference final against Philadelphia at Mellon Arena last night after missing three games because of a broken right foot.
Talbot, who was injured when he blocked a shot by Rangers defenseman Paul Mara in Game 3 of the second round, had pieces of Kevlar covering the top of his feet on both skates, and not only because he was concerned about being hit by another puck.
Indeed, he was more interested in preventing Philadelphia from figuring out which of his feet was injured, and thus being able to target it for abuse.
"I want to mix them up," Talbot said. "I don't want to show [the Flyers], 'Hey, this is my foot that's hurt.' They'll have to slash both feet if that want to hurt me."
It's no secret that Talbot's injury is to his right foot, of course, but even an opponent armed with that information might be hard-pressed to recall it on short notice in a game, and having to distinguish one of Talbot's feet from the other just might give Talbot enough time to escape a painful whack.
Talbot also hinted that he might consider wearing the extra protection even when his fracture no longer is an issue.
"I don't even feel [the protective piece]," he said. "I should play with that year-round. Until it happens to you, you don't want to wear it. It's like a [face] shield. Until you have an injury close to your eyes ... "
The somewhat subtle butt-end Detroit goalie Chris Osgood shoved into the face of Dallas forward Mike Ribeiro in the waning seconds of Game 2 in the Western Conference final Saturday -- and Ribeiro's not-so-subtle two-handed slash to Osgood's chest -- were a popular topic of discussion after the Penguins' game-day skate.
Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury is an easy-going sort who rarely appears to be riled up on the ice, but allowed that "maybe, sometimes" he has tried to do something similar to an opponent. He even came up with a theory for why Osgood might have targeted Ribeiro.
"I can't speak for Osgood," Fleury said. "But I'm sure maybe Ribeiro was around and maybe yapped at him, or gave him a couple of shots. In the game, you can't do much, but when your chance comes ..."
Fleury knows a bit about being on the receiving end of stickwork -- New York Rangers agitator Sean Avery gave him a less-than-lethal spear at the end of a game in Round 2 -- and said he was surprised Osgood dropped as if shot when Ribeiro smacked him in the chest protector, which is designed to withstand pucks moving at more than 100 mph.
"I don't know [how much it would hurt]," he said. "Maybe not as much as it looked like."
It's no secret that the 1975 Penguins are one of two teams in NHL history to lose a best-of-seven series after taking a 3-0 lead.
What isn't as well-known is that the Flyers almost became the third a couple of weeks later.
The New York Islanders, who rallied from a three-game deficit to knock off the Penguins in the second round, nearly duplicated that feat in the semifinals against Philadelphia.
The Flyers won the first three games before New York stormed back with three consecutive victories to force a Game 7. Philadelphia, though, saved itself from entering the record book with a 4-1 victory to win the series.
First Published May 12, 2008 12:00 am