SouthPointe_ The Pittsburgh Penguins returned to the ice tonight after a two day break. Unlike other professional sports, the NHL shuts down on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Some players stayed in Pittsburgh while others went back home like Sidney Crosby.
Pittsburgh got back to work just after 6:00 p.m., going through a hard 65 minute skate.
All players were accounted for, including defenseman Mark Eaton (right knee). Eaton participated fully after missing the past two games with a right knee injury.
Eaton suffered a right knee injury against Buffalo (12/19/09) and the Penguins decided to shut him down until after Christmas. He will be evaluated by team doctors prior to Sunday’s morning skate. He is regarded as questionable for tomorrow’s game.
In other injury news, winger Chris Kunitz was bothered by a nagging knee injury Wednesday night, which limited his ice time against Ottawa in the third period.
Kunitz participated fully in today’s practice and will play against Toronto. Despite only having two shifts in the third period Wednesday night, Kunitz scored a goal and added 3 assists against Ottawa in Pittsburgh 8-2 rout of the Senators.
Kunitz has 7 points in his past four games.
*Enforcer Eric Godard has been informed that he will play tomorrow night against Toronto. Marc Andre Fleury will start in goal.
Brent Johnson is under consideration to play Tuesday night against Buffalo.
*Head coach Dan Bylsma would not commit to his lines for tomorrow night, however, Crosby will not be playing without Bill Guerin or Chris Kunitz for too much longer.
Penguins to alter Power Play?
Evgeni Malkin was told about a week ago that playing the left point would not be permanent. He’s admitted of late that he’s not comfortable playing the left point and Pittsburgh is using different formations in practice where Malkin is moving around more. Don’t look for him to be stuck on the left point in all situations
Maple Leafs playing back-to-back games
The Toronto Maple Leafs come to town Sunday night in the second game of a back-to-back situation. The schedule makers have favored the Penguins of late.
“Santa has been good to us in that regard, ” Dan Bylsma said following practice. ” I haven’t looked but I would imagine the schedule is going to have to even out in some aspect. I think with the tight schedule every team will have suffered some effects of having to play back-to-back nights. We have been a benefactor of that.”
Player to Watch: Evgeni Malkin has recorded 31 points (7g, 24a) in 13 career contests against Toronto.
Alfredsson out for 4-6 weeks
Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson will miss 4-to-6 weeks with a separated left shoulder. Alfredsson was hurt during Wednesday’s 8-2 loss in Pittsburgh, when Penguins forward Craig Adams delivered a blindside hit to Alfredsson who left the game immediately. Alfredsson has nine goals and 31 points in 37 games this season for Ottawa.
The Ottawa Senators contacted the league about the hit but Adams was not under any consideration to be suspended.