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Penguins notebook: Hybrid icing slowing pace

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By Josh Yohe
Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013, 9:15 p.m.

The Penguins played 43 regular-season games that ended in regulation, and three of those games produced 70 or more faceoffs.

In three regular-season games this year, two have produced more than 70 faceoffs. The Penguins are aware of this, and they're not thrilled about it. A team that prefers a fast tempo, the Penguins are playing slow-paced games.

“It's because of the hybrid icing,” center Brandon Sutter said. “There's no doubt about it.”

A number of Penguins voted for the new hybrid icing rule to pass, and it did. However, multiple players have already said, just three games into the season, that they wish they could take back their “yes” vote.

The problem, quite simply, is that linesmen are ordered to call icing when there is any questionable call. This produced 74 faceoffs when the Penguins hosted Buffalo, and 71 more when they hosted Carolina on Tuesday. Center Sidney Crosby took 41 draws against Buffalo, the highest total of his career in a regular-season game.

The Penguins averaged 60.5 faceoffs per game in tilts that concluded in 60 minutes last season. Through three games in this campaign, that average is 66.3.

“We noticed from the first game just how many more whistles there are,” Sutter said. “I guess they're trying to experiment with the new icing, see how it goes. But it does kind of drive you nuts with all the whistles.” game down,” Sutter said. “It's hard not to notice.”

Letang not ready yet

Defenseman Kris Letang skated with the Penguins and traveled with the team to Florida, but he isn't expected to play on this road trip. There is a chance that Letang, along with forward Matt D'Agostini, could return to the lineup when the Penguins return home for a game Tuesday against Winnipeg or Thursday in Philadelphia.

Right wing James Neal is still “week-to-week” with an upper-body injury.

No forwards on the way

Although they possess no healthy extra forwards, coach Dan Bylsma doesn't expect the Penguins to recall a forward for this trip.

Defenseman Deryk Engelland is their only extra player for this road trip. Bylsma said that, should a forward be unable to play Saturday night in Tampa, the Penguins would likely use seven defensemen as opposed to rushing a player from Wilkes-Barre to Tampa.

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