Penguins Notebook: Injured Gill not due to face Hurricanes
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The Penguins, already missing their two most-skilled defensemen, are about to lose their largest.
Hal Gill, who is 6 feet 7, 250 pounds, is expected to sit out the Penguins' game against the Carolina Hurricanes at 7:38 tonight at Mellon Arena because of injury. Team officials, again invoking a policy instituted recently by the NHL, declined to identify the nature of Gill's problem, which prevented him from practicing yesterday.
Gill joins Sergei Gonchar and Ryan Whitney, both of whose absences will be measured in months, on the list of injured defensemen, but coach Michel Therrien said Hill's status is "more day-to-day."
Penguins winger Matt Cooke, who missed the past three games because of an abdominal/rib injury, went through the full practice after skating on his own the previous four days.
While he did not commit to being able to dress against the Hurricanes, Cooke called practicing "another step in the right direction."
With Gill out, the Penguins' defense pairings will be reconfigured. The new combinations: Brooks Orpik-Rob Scuderi, Mark Eaton-Kris Letang and Darryl Sydor-Alex Goligoski.
After practice, Sydor, who dressed for just two of the first seven games and spent one of those on left wing, acknowledged the benefits of learning a day ahead of time that he'd be playing.
"I'm already preparing for [the game]," he said. "Mentally, it's nice to know that you're going to be in, so you can focus, run things through your mind."
Carolina could have a change on its blueline tonight, too: Ex-Penguins defenseman Josef Melichar, who signed with the Hurricanes as a free agent in the summer, might make his first NHL appearance since 2007 if a leg injury prevents forward Tuomo Ruutu from playing.
Some radical changes
Carolina, which already had abandoned game-day skates, is experimenting with something more radical. Rather than flying in yesterday, which would have been in keeping with standard NHL practice, the Hurricanes opted to travel here this morning.
"We've talked about it in the past, just changing the routine," coach Peter Laviolette told the News & Observer, a Raleigh, N.C., newspaper. "It's something that has been set in stone.
"I really don't think it's that big of a deal as far as what you're going to lose, [compared to] what you're going to gain: It's time at home, a home-cooked meal with your family when you're away so much."
"We'll wake up and we'll do the same things whether we come to the rink or go to Pittsburgh. We'll be there at the same time for the [team] meal and meetings, and guys will be resting [at the hotel] at the same time they always do."
First Published October 23, 2008 12:00 am