Penguins Notebook: Gill returns, so defense dresses 7 vs. Bruins
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The Penguins avoided making a decision about which defenseman to sit when they reassigned rookie winger Paul Bissonnette to their Wilkes-Barre/Scranton minor league team and dressed seven defensemen last night against Boston at Mellon Arena.
Hal Gill returned after missing 10 games because of a shoulder injury, but the team was concerned he couldn't play a usual amount of time.
"With Gill coming back, the first game back even when you're in good shape it's sometimes a little tough out there," said Penguins assistant Andre Savard, who oversees the defense. "We want to make sure we cover ourselves on that."
Gill, 6 feet 7 and 250 pounds, gives the Penguins a big presence in front of the net. That and his reach also make him a valued penalty killer.
One choice might have been to scratch rookie Alex Goligoski, but Savard said the Penguins ruled that out.
"Goligoski is an important player on the power play. He's had some important points for us," Savard said.
With just 11 forwards in the lineup, Goligoski was used some at left wing on an all-rookie fourth line with center Dustin Jeffrey and right winger Tim Wallace.
"With seven defensemen, we don't like having people sitting on the bench," Savard said.
Bissonnette played in two games during his call-up after appearing in six games with the Penguins early this season.
Penguins centers Sidney Crosby and Jordan Staal had milestone games last night.
Crosby, 21, played in his 250th game. His 343 points going into the game ranked him sixth all time, two points behind former New York Islanders star Mike Bossy, for scoring by players through 250 games.
Crosby had a hard time putting that into perspective.
"It's just game by game," he said. "It doesn't feel like anything. It doesn't change. I don't feel like I've played more or less. It doesn't feel any different."
Staal, at 20 years, 111 days, became the youngest NHL player to reach 200 games. Patrick Marleau of San Jose was four days older when he played in his 200th game in 2000.
"It came up pretty quickly," said Staal who has missed just one game since his rookie season and made the team a few months after being taking second overall in the 2006 draft.
Staal, strong at both ends with 6-4 size and 11 goals and 21 points going into the game, was asked what type of player he might be like when he gets to his mid-20s and hits, say, 500 games.
"Right now I'm just living day by day, but at times I look at my future and, hopefully, I can keep getting better as a player, on and off the ice," he said. "Right now I'm still learning. I'm still kind of soaking it all in."
Forwards Tyler Kennedy (knee), Mike Zigomanis (shoulder) and Eric Godard (believed to be knee) and defenseman Kris Letang (foot) have not returned to practice for the Penguins, who had no healthy scratches. ... Penguins coach Michel Therrien missed the morning skate to attend to a family business matter. ... Savard on Boston center and leading scorer Marc Savard: "He's not related. Not that I know of. Somewhere down the line he must be, but not that I know of." ... The Bruins scratched center Patrice Bergeron (concussion) and defenseman Matt Lashoff.
First Published December 31, 2008 12:00 am