Penguins Notebook: Tampa Bay has its share of injuries, too
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The Penguins haven't had their lineup intact for a single game this season, and probably won't have a chance to until sometime in December, when Jordan Staal is expected to return from a broken hand.
They probably didn't get much sympathy from Tampa Bay, however, because the Lightning entered Friday night's game at Consol Energy Center with no fewer than three top-six forwards injured.
Left winger Simon Gagne hasn't played since Oct. 21 because of a neck/concussion problem sustained when he went into the boards, and right winger Steve Downie also is out because of a neck injury.
And the Lightning's situation got even more bleak Thursday in a 6-3 loss in Washington, when center Vincent Lecavalier broke a knuckle on his right hand.
Lecavalier reportedly was hurt when he twisted his hand while trying to compete for a puck, putting too much stress on a bone that had been damaged when it was struck by a shot several weeks ago.
His injury has been diagnosed as a non-displaced fracture and is expected to prevent Lecavalier from playing for three or four weeks. Suffice to say, his absence won't go unnoticed.
"He's a good player for them," Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury said. "He's always dangerous around the net, and he's got a good shot. He's dangerous on the power play, also."
Penguins winger Chris Conner made his first appearance of the season for the Penguins, as coach Dan Bylsma elected to scratch forwards Eric Godard and Mike Comrie, along with defenseman Ben Lovejoy.
Conner was recalled from the Penguins' minor league team in Wilkes-Barre earlier in the week, and Bylsma cited "the speed he brings" as a reason Conner got a chance to play against the Lightning.
"He's a guy who's shown before that he can add to our team with his speed," Bylsma said. "His energy ... against a team that doesn't have a lot of physicality to it, we're going to look for him to add that to our lineup."
Chicago had to begin breaking up its Stanley Cup-winning roster almost before the champagne from its celebration went flat, thanks to salary-cap issues, and no team benefited from the Blackhawks' problems more than Atlanta.
The Thrashers, who will face the Penguins tonight at Philips Arena, picked up four Chicago players who have become regulars. They are:
• Dustin Byfuglien, who was tied for the league lead in points by a defenseman going into Friday night's games. Byfuglien, a converted forward, has five goals and 11 assists in 16 games.
• Left winger Andrew Ladd, who is tied with Byfuglien for the team scoring lead, and has the most even-strength points (10) of any Thrasher.
• Defenseman Brent Sopel, who has just one assist in 15 games, but has blocked a team-high 37 shots.
• Left winger Ben Eager, who had a celebrated off-ice run-in with former Penguins coach Michel Therrien while playing for Philadelphia, tops Atlanta with 36 penalty minutes and is second in hits with 29.
Bylsma delivered a rather unusual message to his players: "We need to give ourselves permission to win."
That's something he didn't think his players did in a 7-4 loss Wednesday to Boston, when they gave up five unanswered goals during the third period.
The Penguins have four of the 100 players on the ballot for the 2010-11 All-Star Game: goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, defenseman Paul Martin, forward Evgeni Malkin and center/captain Sidney Crosby. Fans also can cast write-in votes.
It might be of interest to Penguins fans that Kris Letang, who ranks high among the NHL defenseman scoring leaders, is not on the list.
Voting begins Monday and runs through Jan. 3 at nhl.com/vote, facebook.com/nhl or by sending a player's last name by text message to 81812.
First Published November 13, 2010 1:42 am