Penguins Notebook: Jeffrey rejoins team
Penguins forward Dustin Jeffrey scores the winning shootout goal against Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist during Tuesday's game at Madison Square Garden in New York.
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NEW YORK -- Dustin Jeffrey is accustomed to commuting between the NHL and the American Hockey League.
He should be, considering he has made the trip about a half-dozen times already this season.
But Jeffrey, who was recalled from the Penguins' minor league team in Wilkes-Barre Tuesday, couldn't have been prepared for the role in which he found himself during the Penguins' game against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
When center Mark Letestu was hurt during the game-day skate -- he got a potentially significant knee injury when his skate caught a rut in the Garden ice surface -- Jeffrey was plugged into Letestu's place between left winger Chris Kunitz and right winger Pascal Dupuis.
That's a spot usually filled by Sidney Crosby, who missed his 10th consecutive game because of a concussion. What's more, Jeffrey was put into Letestu's spot on the No. 1 power-play unit, another job Letestu had taken on after Crosby was hurt.
"[Jeffrey] is a guy who has had a good seven games for us, and he's going to get a real opportunity -- both with the players he's playing with and the ice time -- [against the Rangers]," coach Dan Bylsma said after the morning skate.
"Jeffrey already had been penciled into the lineup for the game, albeit not in such a prominent role. Letestu's injury, however, opened a spot for right winger Eric Godard, who had been out since Dec. 26 because of facial injuries received in a fight with Ottawa's Matt Carkner.
Evgeni Malkin missed his fourth consecutive game because of a sinus infection, but he might return when the Penguins face the New York Islanders tonight at Consol Energy Center.
Bylsma said Tuesday that "it's out of the question" that Malkin will dress for that game.
Malkin, who has 15 goals and 22 assists in 42 games, participated in the Penguins' game-day skate with no apparent problems.
Rangers center Brian Boyle has been a pretty tough guy to overlook this season, and not just because he stands 6 feet 7 and weighs 252 pounds.
Boyle entered the game with 18 goals and nine assists in 52 games. Those are solid numbers for nearly anyone, but especially a guy who had 12 goals and four assists in 107 previous NHL games.
"He's really good in front of the net on the power play," Penguins defesneman Brooks Orpik said.
"He's got a real quick release."
Orpik has known Boyle for a while -- Boyle was his brother's teammate at Boston College, and he and Orpik have trained together in the past -- and doesn't seem surprised by the progress he has made.
"I think maturity is the biggest thing," Orpik said. "Commitment and conditioning. I know he worked out really hard [during the past offseason].
"For a kid that big, he's always really skated well and had really soft hands. It was just a maturity thing with him."
Islanders rookie goalie Kevin Poulin was outstanding in a 1-0 loss to the Penguins at Consol Energy Center last Tuesday, and they won't be surprised to see him again tonight.
"He's big, but his style is really sound," Penguins goaltending coach Gilles Meloche said. "In our game ... positioning-wise, he was square to the puck and he's so big that he covers a lot of space."
The Penguins knew almost nothing about Poulin before last week, but Meloche has spent some time lately studying tape of him to get a feel for his strengths and to pick up on any flaws there might be in Poulin's game.
"I saw two games on tape, and he looked legitimate," Meloche said. "And I looked back at his record in junior, and he had a pretty good [goals-against] average and save percentage there. If you do that in junior, you're pretty solid."
First Published February 2, 2011 12:19 am