The Pittsburgh Penguins will be shorthanded in the top-6 for this weekend’s home and home series vs the Philadelphia Flyers and possibly longer. Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma revealed after today’s practice that James Neal was diagnosed with a concussion Thursday afternoon and is out indefinitely.
As with any player with a concussion, Neal could be back in the lineup in a week or be out for several weeks.
“You don’t know if you’re talking about one to two days or much longer than that,” Bylsma said. “Yesterday when he came in from the day off, he said he was not feeling normal and he went to the doctor yesterday after practice.”
With a lack of true scoring depth, the Penguins are one long-term injury to one of their top four forwards (Crosby, Malkin, Kunitz or Neal) to being in real trouble come playoff time.
This is Neal’s second concussion in about a year.
Neal’s injury will put Brian Gibbons back in the top-6 for at least the next two games.
Gibbons will play on the second line with Jussi Jokinen and Evgeni Malkin tomorrow afternoon. In Tuesday’s 2-0 win over Washington, Gibbons was productive on the third line with Brandon Sutter and Taylor Pyatt.
Gibbons, though, may only get a few games with Malkin and Jokinen. Beau Bennett will be examined by doctors on Wednesday and could receive clearance to play Thursday night vs Detroit, a team source says. However, the Penguins intend to be very cautious with him.
Meanwhile, Chris Kunitz looks like a go for the home and home series vs Philadelphia. After getting two days off after dealing with what the Penguins called some “bumps and bruises”, Kunitz was a full participant today, skating on the top line and taking first power play reps.
PENGUINS EXPECTED LINES VS FLYERS
Kunitz – Crosby – Stempniak
Jokinen – Malkin – Gibbons
Glass – Sutter – Goc
Pyatt – Vitale – Adams