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Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By Josh Yohe
Sunday, March 25, 2012

OTTAWA -- Cracking the Penguins' lineup isn't easy, given that Dan Bylsma's team is arguably the NHL's best and that it is reasonably healthy for the first time all season.

Defenseman Ben Lovejoy and left wing Eric Tangradi are looking to make the most of the opportunities.

Lovejoy returned to the lineup Saturday in Ottawa, replacing injured defensemen Matt Niskanen. He admits that he currently isn't a top-six defenseman for the Penguins, yet is making sure his game is polished when the postseason arrives.

"We have seven guys right now," Lovejoy said. "I'm the seventh. Being on such a good team, it's OK. It's fun to be a part of such a winning organization. I would like to have my name on the Stanley Cup like everybody else. I'd like to help this season. This is my role, to be ready when my name is called."

Lovejoy shows little frustration with his status, even though such a reaction would be understandable. He is plus-2 this season and has been steady, showing improved skating while being quite dependable. Lovejoy has only been worse than a minus-1 in a game once all season.

Niskanen "will be back before the end of the regular season," according to Lovejoy. Still, Lovejoy wants to get some work in before the playoffs.

"I'm excited to play a few games," he said.

Tangradi, who hasn't scored a goal in limited action this season, has seen sporadic action lately and has showed signs of producing. He played perhaps his best game of the season last Sunday in Philadelphia.

"I definitely feel more confident with the puck," Tangradi said. "Obviously I can crash and bang, play that style. But I feel better with the puck on my stick. The game is starting to slow down for me a little bit."

No hard feelings

Ottawa left wing Nick Foligno and center Sidney Crosby had a notable battle in front of the Senators' net following a whistle Nov. 25. Foligno was critical of Crosby in the days that followed.

He has since changed his tune, saying the incident is no longer an issue.

"Not at all," Foligno said. "I haven't thought about it."

Still out

Injured goaltender Brent Johnson, center Joe Vitale (right shoulder) and Niskanen (upper-body injury) remained home during the brief trip to Ottawa. None of the injuries are considered serious.

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