Penguins notebook: Preseason games can get nasty

| Monday, Sept. 16, 2013, 8:09 p.m.

Preseason games offer a combination of NHL regulars getting into game shape and a group of young, unheralded players eager to impress management in any possible manner.

The results can be disastrous.

Former Penguins defenseman Sergei Gonchar was injured in a 2008 preseason game when former Tampa Bay forward David Koci — he had only played 27 NHL games at that point, and finished his career with three goals and 461 penalty minutes in 142 games — struck with a late hit, knocking the star out of the lineup for five months.

Entrenched NHL players have their heads on swivels in these games.

“You have to approach the game the right way,” center Sidney Crosby said. “Especially in the preseason, there are going to be some guys who are really going hard. You have to be aware.”

Many established players merely use these games to fine tune their timing, test their conditioning or develop some chemistry with new linemates.

Others, though, will provoke confrontations in an attempt to prove toughness to management. Recent rookie tournaments produced a rash of fights and dangerous hits.

Defenseman Paul Martin acknowledged that preseason games aren't always comfortable for regulars.

“You really have to keep your head up in these games,” he said. “You know going in that some of these guys are physical guys by nature, and you need to be smart out there.”

Not all of the experienced Penguins players mind the unpredictable nature of preseason games.

Right wing Craig Adams acknowledged that he once was a player fighting for a spot on an roster.

“There are definitely going to be some guys who are trying to get noticed,” Adams said. “You know what to expect from guys who have been around. But if it's a guy you don't recognize, you've got to be ready for anything.”

Injury update

Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin will miss around a week because of a lower body injury, according to Penguins coach Dan Bylsma.

Dumoulin, who has a legitimate chance to make the Penguins' opening night roster, sustained an injury on Sunday against Columbus. The Penguins did not reveal any injury information regarding center Joe Vitale, who looked woozy following a fight with Columbus defenseman James Wisniewski.

Oh, baby

Penguins right wing Matt D'Agostini missed the exhibition game Monday night against Detroit because his wife went into labor Monday morning. He was originally scheduled to skate on a line with center Brandon Sutter and left wing Jussi Jokinen.

Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @JoshYohe_Trib.

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