Penguins Notebook: Injuries will not change mindset
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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- It would be foolish for the Penguins to pretend they will not miss the likes of Evgeni Malkin, Sergei Gonchar, Tyler Kennedy and Max Talbot while those guys recover from injuries.
But it would be worse, they contend, to view the absence of those players as a reason to lower their expectations.
"Injuries are injuries," winger Ruslan Fedotenko said yesterday. "They happen to everybody. We still need to play games, still need to win. " We can't do anything about [injuries]."
Except to call up guys like forwards Chris Conner and Mark Letestu from their minor league team in Wilkes-Barre and count on them to contribute, as needed.
"It's an opportunity for all of us to keep the train moving," forward Mike Rupp said.
"We'll be fine, and, hopefully, get those guys back soon."
Former Penguins right winger Petr Sykora is having a rough time adjusting to his new team, Minnesota.
He had one point, a goal, in his first six games with the Wild and was a healthy scratch for a loss Wednesday to Nashville.
"I'm expecting him to be professional about it, and, yes, he has something to prove," coach Todd Richards told Minnesota reporters Thursday. "What you're looking for is for him to have the attitude of sticking it to the coach. You know, that 'he made the wrong decision, and I'm going to prove that you were wrong.' "
Asked why Sykora was not used against the Predators, Richards said, "His play isn't where it needs to be right now."
Sykora told reporters that "[the coaches] haven't told me what I'm doing wrong, so I don't know."
It is not known if Sykora will be in uniform when the Wild visits Mellon Arena tonight.
Columbus forward R. J. Umberger could not be blamed for having mixed feelings about watching the Penguins win a Stanley Cup this spring.
After all, he was a fan of the team while growing up in Plum but spent the early portion of his NHL career with the Penguins' most intense rival, Philadelphia.
Umberger, though, said yesterday that there was no downside to seeing the Penguins claim their championship.
"I was happy for them," he said. "It's still a great city. When they won the Stanley Cup and the Super Bowl, that was great for the city, the economy there.
"My family still lives there, and my kids will probably live there someday, so it's good to see that hockey will continue to grow there. I'm glad they won."
There's a connection between this Minnesota team and the Penguins that has nothing to do with Sykora or Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher, a former assistant to Penguins general manager Ray Shero.
The Wild has lost its first eight away games, the first team to do so since the 1996-97 Penguins. A loss tonight would make Minnesota just the second team in league history to open a season with nine consecutive road losses and, while that's hardly out of the question, Minnesota is not likely to make a serious run at the NHL record.
That belongs to the 1992-93 Ottawa Senators, who commemorated their return to the NHL by dropping their first 38 on the road.
This game will mark the fourth time in as many weeks that the Penguins have played on consecutive nights, which could have been a plus for the Wild. Trouble is, Minnesota not only faced the New York Rangers last night, but had to fly in from the Twin Cities after the game, whereas the Penguins had only to make the short trip back from Columbus.
First Published October 31, 2009 12:01 am