Penguins notebook: Top seed gives Bylsma options
BOSTON — Dan Bylsma has decisions to make.
The Penguins have secured the top seed in the Eastern Conference, rendering the final week of the NHL regular season relatively meaningless.
Still, with key contributors such as centers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, right winger James Neal and defenseman Paul Martin injured, there could be less opportunity to rest veterans over the last four games before the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Seven Penguins have played in every game, including forward Craig Adams, wingers Pascal Dupuis, Matt Cooke and Chris Kunitz, and defenseman Brooks Orpik. All are 32 or older.
Wingers Jarome Iginla and Brenden Morrow, forward Jussi Jokinen and defenseman Douglas Murray — all trade deadline-period acquisitions — are 30 or older, too.
“In terms of minutes on the ice and trying to roll four lines in games … it's going to continue in the next four games coming up,” Bylsma said. “There will maybe be a couple of opportunities to have different lineups as we go.”
Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who will be the starter in the playoffs if healthy, will play in three remaining regular-season games, Bylsma said.
Backup Thomas Vokoun made 38 saves in the Penguins' 3-2 win over Boston on Saturday at TD Garden.
A rousing version of the national anthem, mostly performed a cappella by fans inside the TD Garden, highlighted the first major public event in Boston after the arrest Friday night of an alleged suspect behind the Boston Marathon bombings. The Penguins had been scheduled to play at Boston on Friday night, but a manhunt that had Boston and surrounding areas on lockdown that day forced a postponement.
Penguins and Bruins players donned jerseys with special patches. Those jerseys were slated to be auctioned by each club's charitable foundation, with proceeds going to The One Fund Boston — designated to financially assist families most impacted by the marathon bombings.
Jack Edwards, a Bruins television broadcaster for cable network NESN, apologized on Twitter for his in-game insult directed at Cooke.
Edwards compared Cooke, whom he has blamed for ending the career of Bruins center Marc Savard (concussion) with a hit in March 2010, to Sirhan Sirhan, who assassinated Sen. Robert F. Kennedy in 1968.
Edwards referenced Cooke's nomination last season for the Masterton Trophy, which is awarded to the player who best exemplifies qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.
Cooke did not win the award last season. The Pittsburgh chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association annually nominates a Penguins' Masterton candidate. Crosby is the Penguins' 2013 nominee.
Edwards apologized after Penguins general manager Ray Shero spoke with him and Bruins president Cam Neely during the first intermission. Cooke was not available for comment.
Around the boards
Penguins majority co-owners Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle attended the game with members of their families. Burkle, a California billionaire who resides almost exclusively in London, often attends Penguins games in Boston. … The son of Penguins assistant to the general manager Tom Fitzgerald was honored during the second intermission. Ryan Fitzgerald, a center and a Boston College recruit, was selected as Massachusetts' top male high school player. He is expected to go as high as third in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.
Rob Rossi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @RobRossi_Trib.
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