Penguins Notebook: Kunitz could be out, but Malkin a maybe
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Penguins left winger Chris Kunitz missed practice Monday after getting "banged up" Saturday at Buffalo and is day to day, coach Dan Bylsma said.
Center Sidney Crosby might get a top-notch replacement for Kunitz on the team's top line when the Penguins play tonight at Philadelphia -- Evgeni Malkin.
Malkin, who has missed the past four games because of a sore knee, practiced with Crosby and Pascal Dupuis, taking part in all drills and skating hard.
"We'll see [today] at the morning skate," Malkin said. "I feel pretty good. ... It's not sore at all.
"There's no pressure to play. If I'm a little bit sore [at the morning skate], I won't play."
Bylsma said if Kunitz can't play and Malkin can, Malkin might remain on Crosby's wing. If both play, Malkin likely would move to the second line, where he had been sharing center and right wing duties with Max Talbot.
If neither plays, the Penguins still have 12 healthy forwards.
Crosby has been hauling in weekly and monthly awards with regularity this season, but now it's goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury's turn.
Fleury was named the No. 2 star of the week ending Sunday by the NHL.
Fleury was 3-0 with a 1.67 goals-against average and a .944 save percentage during the week.
When he started 1-6, there was widespread criticism of Fleury. Following a no-decision in his eighth start, he has gone 13-0-1 and has a career-best 11-game winning streak.
San Jose winger Ryane Clowe was the first star and Columbus winger Rick Nash was the third star
As always, the Penguins can expect a physical game tonight against Philadelphia, but the Flyers will be without enforcer Jody Shelley.
The winger was suspended for two games and fined by the NHL for his hit Saturday on Boston defenseman Adam McQuaid as the two raced for the puck on an icing play.
Shelley received a five-minute major penalty for checking from behind and a game misconduct. He apologized to McQuaid after the game.
McQuaid remained down on the ice several minutes, but later returned to the game. He said he did not have a head injury.
Crosby might be something of a traditionalist in a sport where flash is sometimes frowned upon, but he had no qualms about Linus Omark's move Friday night, when the Edmonton rookie did a 360 maneuver just after getting the puck at center ice during a shootout, then scored against Tampa Bay goaltender Dan Ellis to give the Oilers a win.
"I was surprised, like everyone else," Crosby said. "It takes a lot of confidence to do something like that. Most guys, first shootout in the NHL, probably are just worried about getting a shot on net, let alone doing that. He's got a lot of confidence, and he put it in. That's the main thing.
"It's a shot. He scored. It doesn't matter how you do it."
Crosby flashed a big grin, knowing the kind of criticism Omark would have taken if he hadn't scored after what some would call a hot dog move.
"For him, it's good it went in," Crosby said. "If you're going to do that your first time, it's good it went in.
"I don't see a huge advantage doing that. If anything, it might be more of a wow factor as far as a goalie not expecting what you're going to do if you do a spin-o-rama that early."
Penguins prospect Eric Tangradi was named the American Hockey League player of the week for the period that ended Sunday. Tangradi, a power forward, had five goals, seven points in three games for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
Tangradi didn't have the strongest start in terms of production. He now has 10 goals, 15 points in 21 games for the league-leading Baby Penguins.
First Published December 14, 2010 12:00 am