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Penguins notebook: Eaton providing team with quality minutes since return

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Wednesday, March 13, 2013, 7:42 p.m.

The Penguins entered the season with so much depth on the blue line that they eventually traded Ben Lovejoy to Anaheim and have been able to allow prospects like Joe Morrow to develop comfortably.

There was little reason to think another defenseman was necessary, and there was no reason to believe general manager Ray Shero would sign another.

Mark Eaton, though, found his way onto the roster. And if he continues his level of play, he might find himself in the lineup on a regular basis.

The Penguins are 5-0 with Eaton in the lineup. He is a plus-4.

“He's got that same style,” said defenseman Kris Letang, who occasionally has played with Eaton during the past two weeks. “He's a guy that can play both ends of the ice, can skate with the puck. He's really good defensively. He's reliable.”

Reliability is the trait Penguins management always has associated with Eaton.

The veteran is delighted to be back with the Penguins after spending the past two seasons with the New York Islanders.

“It's been a blast,” Eaton said. “This is why I did it. I missed it. To be able to get on to this team, and for us to be playing this well, only makes it that much more fun. I have been comfortable. My game doesn't change too much. I keep it simple. I've had the pleasure of playing with some great d-men.”

• Penguins center Evgeni Malkin will not play against the Maple Leafs on Thursday in Toronto but appears to be making progress in his recovery from a right shoulder injury. Malkin skated for a second consecutive day Wednesday, this time at Consol Energy Center before the Penguins practiced. Coach Dan Bylsma initially said Malkin would miss one-to-two weeks after suffering the injury Saturday in Toronto. It is unlikely he will be available for home games this weekend against the Rangers and Bruins.

• Defenseman Brooks Orpik said last week that he likely was going to start wearing a visor, saying there was “no excuse” for not wearing one after he watched Rangers defenseman Marc Staal — who does not wear a visor — suffer an eye injury. Orpik wore a visor during Wednesday's practice and said he might wear it against Toronto on Thursday.

• Right wing Tyler Kennedy, off to the worst start of his pro career, was unable to practice Wednesday because of an illness. It is unknown if Kennedy will play Thursday.

— Josh Yohe

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