Staal expected to play vs. Flames
Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury reaches down to smother the puck as Matt Cooke looks on in the second period Thursday in the season opener against Vancouver.
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CALGARY, Alberta -- Penguins center Jordan Staal, who left a season-opening victory Thursday at Vancouver in the third period, did not practice Friday at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
Coach Dan Bylsma said Staal was given the day off as a precaution -- a "maintenance day" -- following dehydration and cramps a night earlier, and that he is expected to play tonight against Calgary after flushing his system and having an off-ice workout.
Before he had Thursday's problem, Staal was given a maintenance day Tuesday even though the Penguins had off Monday. Bylsma bristled at suggestions that Staal has a hidden injury.
"I can try honesty," Bylsma said. "I tried that [Thursday]. I'll try that again. He cramped in the game [Thursday] night. That's why he didn't finish the game."
Staal had an assist and played 16:35 against the Canucks.
Penguins captain Sidney Crosby broke no new ground during a large-cluster interview after practice, but he certainly had a captive audience.
That's pretty much always the case when the Penguins play in Canada, and especially on the relatively rare times he travels with the club to the western portion of his native country.
Even if he is out of the lineup.
"Trust me, I miss it and I want to get back a lot," Crosby told Calgary reporters after once again practicing hard but without contact as he continues his comeback from a concussion.
He skated on a line with wingers Chris Kunitz and Tyler Kennedy, who have been grouped with Staal.
"All's been good," Crosby said. "It's been nice the last few weeks to be around the team, go hard, not feel like you're on the outside looking in."
While the Penguins were opening their season Thursday at Vancouver, the Calgary players were sitting back, tuning in and learning.
A little bit, at least.
"Some guys watched it," Flames captain Jarome Iginla said. "I watched it a little bit, and definitely watched highlights. It's great to see the season start again."
Calgary's season starts tonight with its game against the Penguins.
"I didn't watch their game from start to the end, and I watched if for no other reason than it's good to have hockey going again," Flames defenseman Jay Bouwmeester said. "You want to see what's going on."
Iginla and Bouwmeester said they are relying on their coaching staff to prepare them to face the Penguins more than they might have gleaned anything from watching the Vancouver game.
They aren't at all sure they gained an edge by seeing a Penguins game before the Penguins have seen one of theirs.
"You can look at it both ways," Bouwmeester said. "We haven't played in a week or so [since the preseason schedule ended], and they have a game under their belts. If anything, I think that would be the advantage."
Even entering his 14th season, Iginla still finds himself approaching Calgary's opener with a mix of emotions and a dose of remember-what-got-you-here.
"I think I'll probably try and focus on getting my feet moving," he said. "I know it's going to be a high-tempo first game of the year, as always.
"There's no easing into it. Just go and try and make sure I'm moving my feet."
This year, Iginla is heading into the season without the benefit of any preseason games. He had a back problem in training camp.
First Published October 8, 2011 12:00 am