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Penguins notebook: Bortuzzo won't shy away from fights

| Monday, Oct. 21, 2013, 8:45 p.m.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Robert Bortuzzo defends the Avalanche's Matt Duchene during the second period Monday, Oct. 21, 2013, at Consol Energy Center.

Enforcers scarcely exist in the NHL anymore, but fighting is an element that still is prominent and is one the Penguins don't shy away from.

Defenseman Robert Bortuzzo, whose game has been widely praised by the coaching staff this season, isn't one to shy away from fisticuffs.

“Funny thing is,” Bortuzzo said, “I never really fought much in juniors. Just a little bit. But the closer I got to the NHL, the more I started to fight. I don't mind it. It's just part of my game.”

Having a defenseman handle much of the fighting duties is unusual, as it limits a team to only five defensemen for the five minutes that are spent in the penalty box for a fighting major. Replacing one of 12 forwards for five minutes is easier.

Bortuzzo, though, is always quick to defend teammates.

And, like when Flyers forward Kris Newbury challenged Bortuzzo last week in Philadelphia, the Thunder Bay, Ontario, native isn't about to back down.

Bortuzzo pummeled Newbury with a barrage of right hands, earning respect from his teammates.

“I'm not one to back down,” he said. “I'm not saying I'm going to fight every single tough guy in the league every chance I get, but I'm going to defend my teammates.”

Captain competitive

Colorado rookie Nathan MacKinnon was asked Monday morning if he could provide any stories about Sidney Crosby. Both are former No. 1 overall picks in the NHL Entry Draft who happen to come from Nova Scotia.

MacKinnon obliged.

Crosby, MacKinnon and other NHL players trained this summer in Prince Edward Island. While running up a sand dune, MacKinnon took the lead on Crosby.

But Crosby didn't want to lose.

“He grabbed my heel and pulled me down,” MacKinnon said. “He's the most competitive guy I've ever been around.”

No. 2 star

Crosby was named the NHL's No. 2 star of the week, the second straight week he has been honored by the league.

Last week, he was voted the NHL's No. 3 star.

During the past week, Crosby scored two goals and added six assists in three games.

Crosby entered Monday's game against Colorado as one of three NHL players to score a point in all of his team's games this season.

Scratches

Defenseman Deryk Engelland was a healthy scratch for the fifth time this season. He had played in four consecutive games, with two of them seeing Engelland play at right wing on the fourth line.

Also not playing for the Penguins on Monday were center Dustin Jeffrey (healthy scratch), right wings Beau Bennett (lower-body injury), James Neal (upper-body injury) and Matt D'Agostini (lower-body injury), and defenseman Kris Letang (knee injury).

Letang is close to returning to the lineup, coach Dan Bylsma said.

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

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