Penguins Notebook: Hossa, Talbot expected to return to lineup today
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The Penguins' lineup should get a boost today when forwards Marian Hossa and Max Talbot return from injuries to play in a nationally televised game against Philadelphia at Mellon Arena.
- Matchup: Penguins vs. Philadelphia Flyers, 12:08 p.m., Mellon Arena.
- TV, radio: WPXI, WXDX-FM (105.9).
- Probable goaltenders: Marc-Andre Fleury for Penguins. Martin Biron for Flyers.
- Penguins: Have won four of past five games. ... Playing just second game in seven days. ... Evgeni Malkin has 7 goals, 18 points in 12 career games vs. Philadelphia.
- Flyers: Have lost three in row and five of seven but have at least one point in nine of past 11 games. ... Are 4-1 vs. Penguins this season. ... Were second-least penalized team before yesterday, 18.4 minutes per game.
- Hidden stat: The Flyers (22.5 percent) and Penguins (20.9) are ranked second and third, respectively, on the power play.
Talbot missed one game after aggravating a high ankle sprain. Hossa has missed the past seven games because of a medial collateral ligament sprain in his right knee. He played 10 minutes, 13 seconds Feb. 28 at Boston, his first game since joining the Penguins in a blockbuster trade with Atlanta, before he got injured.
"It's nice that Hossa is going to be back in the lineup." coach Michel Therrien said after practice yesterday at Southpointe. "He hasn't had an opportunity to play a lot since we got him, but he's 100 percent and he looked really, really good the last two practices."
Hossa practiced on a line with center Jordan Staal and left winger Pascal Dupuis.
Winger Petr Sykora also expects to be in the lineup. He played Wednesday in a 7-3 win against Buffalo despite a sore back but practiced with no problems yesterday after getting two days off.
"We got lucky that we kind of got a break in our schedule," Sykora said. "I recovered and I'm ready for [today]."
Wearing the non-contact yellow jersey made famous by Sidney Crosby while he was recovering from a high ankle sprain, winger Gary Roberts returned to practice.
"It was nice to get out and do some of the drills," said Roberts, who has been out since he sustained a broken left leg and high ankle sprain Dec. 29. "It's a start anyway. It's been a long road. The battling, the cycle work, that's where I've got to get some time in."
Roberts has said he would like to come back in time to play five games before the playoffs. That would put him in the lineup March 27 at home against the New York Islanders.
"I think that's realistic," he said. "That's 12 days from [yesterday]. If I can skate and make improvement daily, hopefully we're sitting here in 10, 12 days and I'm close to playing."
As expected, Crosby stayed off the ice. He is taking some time to rest his sore right ankle and could be back Saturday when the Penguins play New Jersey at home.
One thing that isn't likely to help his ankle is an extra dose of tape.
Talbot, who has been dealing with the lingering effects of the same injury for nearly four months, practically makes a cast out of tape.
"But it doesn't do much," he said.
"That only does so much," he said. "It gives you that support in a way, but at the same time when you have a [defenseman] leaning on you, there's not much it's going to do, or if somebody rolls on it or you twist it a certain way."
There's little chance of Crosby avoiding contact in games.
"In any game, Sid plays a physical game and plays in traffic," general manager Ray Shero said, "so getting him 100 percent is our main goal."
The Flyers are getting injured players back, too. In the past couple games, leading scorer Mike Richards (hamstring) and Joffrey Lupul (ankle) returned, and Lupul assisted on a goal by Richards yesterday in a 3-2 overtime loss to Boston.
Still, there are signs Philadelphia feels the pressure of trying to get itself comfortably above the playoff cutoff line in the Eastern Conference.
Tempers boiled over in practice Friday when Plum native R.J. Umberger and Jim Dowd fought.
"Every game is critical," Flyers coach John Stevens told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "There is a big crowd around those seventh, eighth, ninth and 10th spots."
Philadelphia didn't get out of the Bruins loss unscathed. Defenseman Derian Hatcher left with a right leg injury and is not expected to play today.
First Published March 16, 2008 12:00 am