Depleted Penguins defense welcomes prospect Bortuzzo
LOS ANGELES -- The Penguins are running out of defensemen, and the organization thinks highly of prospect Robert Bortuzzo.
Put those two realities together, and it's easy to understand why Bortuzzo was recalled from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton as an insurance policy before the Penguins took on the Kings at Staples Center.
"He was certainly strong in his efforts last year with what he's done in the American Hockey League," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said.
That the Penguins were willing to play Bortuzzo in his first NHL game says something of the team's trust in the 22-year-old native of Thunder Bay, Ontario. After all, Bortuzzo missed all of training camp with a knee injury and has only played in two AHL games this season, returning to game action earlier this week.
Still, the Penguins weren't afraid to throw Bortuzzo into the fire.
"He's going to be a really good defenseman at this level," said defenseman Deryk Engelland, who played the 2009-10 season with Bortuzzo in Wilkes-Barre. "He's big, and when he gets some experience, you'll see how good he can be."
Bortuzzo was recalled because of a fear that defenseman Paul Martin would be unable to play against the Kings. Martin did not practice Friday in San Jose and did not participate in the team's morning skate.
Kennedy skates again
Right wing Tyler Kennedy, who still has not been cleared for contact following the concussion he sustained in October, again skated with the Penguins. Kennedy last played Oct. 15 in a game against Buffalo.
Defenseman Ben Lovejoy, who suffered a broken wrist against the Sharks on Thursday in San Jose, remained with the team in Los Angeles. He will be evaluated when he returns to Pittsburgh. No time-frame has been given for his recovery.