Penguins Notebook: Third jerseys make season debut vs. Sabres
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At a quick glance, it looked as if maybe the Buffalo Sabres, the Penguins' opponent tonight, was on the ice at Mellon Arena yesterday afternoon.
But the Sabres were at home getting ready to play Columbus. The team skating was the Penguins, decked out in blue practice gear.
Tonight, they will unveil their new third jerseys in powder blue with dark blue accents. They surfaced last year for the Winter Classic played New Year's Day in Buffalo and harken to the club's original colors from the 1960s and '70s before the black-and-gold scheme was adopted in 1980.
For goaltenders Marc-Andre Fleury and Dany Sabourin, yesterday gave them a chance to skate and field shots in masks they had designed for the Winter Classic. Fleury got hurt before that game, and Ty Conklin played that entire game, a 2-1 shootout win over the Sabres.
"It's pretty simple. I like it," Fleury said of his alternate mask, which is mostly blue and yellow and features an old Penguins logo, his No. 29, the date of the Winter Classic, initials honoring his four deceased grandparents and a fleur-de-lis on the chin.
"I got lots of comments from the guys."
Sabourin's is even more simple, mostly blue and white, and patterned after one worn by Dunc Wilson when he played for the Penguins in the late 1970s.
"I saw a picture from back then," Sabourin said. "I like it. It's nice to go with the old-time style."
Structurally, the masks are the same as they are accustomed to, made from the molds the goaltenders used for their regular masks.
The Penguins will wear the third jerseys at select home games through the season.
It's never easy being the odd man out, but that's the seat a Penguins defenseman has held most games this season.
"Anytime you're out of the lineup, you're champing at the bit to get back in there," said veteran Mark Eaton, who was a healthy scratch in three of the past four games. "When you do get back in there, you want to try and be solid and play well. That's the mindset -- stay positive and be ready when you're called upon."
Eaton played the first 11 games before he sat for two games, played one, sat again and then came back Thursday for a 5-4 shootout win against Philadelphia while fellow veteran Darryl Sydor was scratched.
"There's not much you can say," Eaton said. "The coaches make the decisions, and we live with them.
"The couple games before I sat out the first time were definitely not strong games on my part. If I can take some positives out of it, maybe it's something that allowed me to kind of sit back and gather my thoughts and figure out what I need to do to contribute and be effective for this team."
Eaton, a stay-at-home defenseman who missed major parts of the past two seasons because of injuries, had a plus-minus rating of minus-2 in the two games before he was briefly benched. For the season, he has no points and an even plus-minus.
Things could get more crowded on the blue line when Ryan Whitney returns from foot surgery. He is skating on his own regularly and hopes to return next month. Sergei Gonchar, recovering from shoulder surgery, is expected to return later in the season.
The Penguins' practice was optional. Seventeen of the 22 players participated. ... Players will be matched with local middle-school children Monday to shop for winter apparel at Dick's Sporting Goods at the Mall at Robinson as part of the Salvation Army's Project Bundle-Up. ... The NHL and Ticketmaster have launched a ticket resale service at NHL.com and Ticketmaster.com.
First Published November 15, 2008 12:00 am