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Baby Pens deal with ever-changing roster

Since Feb. 1, nearly every Baby Pens forward who could possibly be called up to the NHL has been.

Dustin Jeffrey, Eric Tangradi and Tim Wallace were in the first wave. Brett Sterling, Ryan Craig, Nick Johnson and Joe Vitale were in the second.

The only forward on an NHL contract who has been in Wilkes-Barre all season but has not yet been promoted to Pittsburgh is right wing Keven Veilleux,a second-year pro with just 49 pro games to his credit.

Throughout the roster shuffling, the Baby Pens have seemed neither shocked nor particularly dismayed.

"We just battle through it," Craig said before being called up. "There can't be excuses. Every team goes through highs and lows. Every team goes through different lineups. It can change up until five minutes before game time in the American Hockey League. Whoever we have in our lineup, we have to make sure we play our system, play our structure and make sure we work."

Stinging demotion

The latest round of call-ups was presumably made to help jumpstart a Penguins offense that has been battered by injuries. Tangradi, who was sent down Wednesday, admitted that it stung to not be considered part of a potential solution to that problem.

"I'd be lying if I said it was all smiles," he said. "It's very frustrating. It's not something I saw coming. But those guys are all deserving of the chance to play in the NHL and from being sent down, the opportunity arises for me to step up and be a go-to guy (in Wilkes-Barre). I'm not excited about what happened. I'm not happy about it. I'm taking a little pride in myself to try to get back there and make things different."

Injury report

Rookie wing Nick Petersen, leading scorer of the ECHL's Wheeling Nailers with 57 points in 40 games, suffered a shoulder injury after being called up to Wilkes-Barre on Feb. 4. He is out indefinitely.

Goalie Brad Thiessen made a successful return from a leg injury that cost him six games. He stopped 39-of-40 shots on back-to-back nights to help the Baby Pens beat Albany, 4-0, on Monday; and Manitoba, 4-1, on Tuesday.

Minor move

The Penguins loaned disappointing 2007 third-round draft pick Casey Pierro-Zabotel to Cincinnati in an ECHL deal Thursday. In return, Wheeling received rookie forwards Sam D'Agostino and Chris Minella. The Penguins retain Pierro-Zabotel's AHL and NHL rights.

ONE TO WATCH

Philip Samuelsson

Boston College (NCAA) — Defenseman

6-foot-2, 198 pounds

Ulf's son has been on an offensive tear lately, posting the first two-goal game of his career in a 5-0 BC win over UMass last Saturday then recording a goal and an assist as the Eagles beat Boston University, 3-2, in overtime in the semifinals of the Beanpot on Monday. The Penguins don't expect Samuelsson, a second-round pick in the 2009 draft, to be an offensive force as a pro, however. They like his play in the defensive zone, especially in 1-on-1 situations. Boston College, ranked first in the country, faces Northeastern for the Beanpot title Monday.

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