Penguins Notebook: Guerin and Rupp replace Ponikarovsky, Fedotenko
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Right winger Bill Guerin, who missed Games 3 and 4 because of an undisclosed ailment, and left winger Mike Rupp, who did not play in Game 4 for a reason that was not revealed, reclaimed their places in the Penguins' lineup for Game 5 Saturday night at Mellon Arena.
Guerin said he was "100 percent, whatever that means" and prepared to take on his usual workload, which includes playing on the No. 1 line and working on the top power-play unit.
Guerin's center, Sidney Crosby, had a pretty good idea the veteran was ready to go, and that was only partly because of what he saw on the ice. Crosby -- often a target of Guerin's wit -- saw the feisty side of his linemate return.
"Yeah, I think he's feeling pretty good, by the sounds of things and by looking at him," Crosby said, with a big grin. "He looks like he's at his best right now."
Rupp, who generally works on the fourth line, does not fill a role as prominent as Guerin's, but coach Dan Bylsma made it clear he believes Rupp's contribution is significant.
"Mike is a guy all year long who has added a physical grit element to our game, and he has done that in the playoffs," he said. "He repeatedly has four or five hits by his name on the stats sheet and is a presence in that area.
"He's a tough guy to handle when he's in and around the net and down low. That's part of what our team is made of. There's a lot of talk about Crosby and [Evgeni] Malkin, but there is a grit, physical element to our team that we need to bring in a series like this."
With those players' return, the Penguins scratched wingers Alexei Ponikarovsky and Ruslan Fedotenko.
Penguins center Jordan Staal, who is wearing shields on his skates to protect a surgically repaired tendon and cut on the top of his right foot, said the Canadiens did not target the foot in his first game back Thursday.
That does not mean his quick recovery -- he played six nights after he got cut by the skate of Montreal's P.K. Subban and underwent surgery -- was painless.
He endured hours a day of treatment on the swollen, tender area.
"It wasn't easy, but it had to be done to try to get back as soon as I could," said Staal, who spent Tuesday night in Montreal getting worked on while he watched the Penguins beat Montreal, 2-0, at the Bell Centre. "All throughout the game, it was getting massaged. That didn't feel too good."
Now "it feels fine. I try not to worry about it anymore and just focus on the series."
The Penguins scored on all four of their power plays in Game 1 against the Canadiens, but went 2 for 11 in the three games that followed.
While they hoped that getting Guerin back as a net-front presence Saturday night would help -- "My job is simple," he said: "Get loose pucks, try to create traffic and shoot" -- Guerin said that even when the power play does not manufacture goals with the extra man, it has to at least produce positive energy.
"We're not OK with not getting goals," he said. "Obviously, we want to score on every power play. That's the objective. But, more important, you're not always going to score on every power play, [and] you can't let the power play be a downer.
"It's got to create momentum for your team. If you show frustration or bad body language [over not scoring], it's going to hurt your bench, and we don't want to do that."
It's not the atmosphere, the dome or the cramped visitors' quarters that make Mellon Arena stand out for Canadiens forward Maxim Lapierre.
"I think it's a great building to play in," Lapierre said after the morning skate when it was mentioned to him that the game Saturday night would be the last one at Mellon if Montreal went on to win the series in six games.
"Mario Lemieux was my favorite player growing up, being from Montreal," Lapierre said of the Penguins' Hall of Fame center and now co-owner. "I remember watching games in this building. I guess it's just special for me to play in the same building he did."
First Published May 9, 2010 12:00 am