Penguins notebook: Players have mixed feelings on league discipline for hits
The NHL disciplinary department has been busier than usual this season. Not counting two recent incidents that are certain to produce NHL discipline — Buffalo forward John Scott's elbow to the head of Boston Loui Eriksson and the Rangers' hit from behind against Philadelphia's Max Talbot — the league has suspended 14 players in the preseason and the early portion of the regular season. The Penguins have mixed feelings on whether the NHL is doing enough. “I actually think the suspensions are enough and I do think guys are still respectful of one another,” left wing Tanner Glass said. “It's a learning curve. The game is happening at a fast pace. These hits were legal a few years ago. (Former New Jersey defenseman) Scott Stevens made a living on these kinds of hits that you're seeing.” Defenseman Brooks Orpik wasn't critical of the league's disciplinary work, but has a problem with some of the hits he has witnessed this season. “We see it with NFL guys too,” Orpik said. “Guys in the NFL get suspended and fined all the time. I've heard so many of them say that they're going to keep doing what they're doing because they have to provide for their family, and they have a small window to do that. It just throws respect for your opponent out the window.” Glass and Orpik agree that there isn't necessarily more dirty hits taking place than in previous seasons, but that the game is simply receiving more exposure than it ever has. “There's no doubt about that,” Glass said. “Now you've got Tampa and Florida on primetime. There are more games for people to dissect.” Orpik said he believes the analysis of questionable hits is positive. “We're paying a lot more attention to the hits now,” he said. “You've got brain studies now and more information. Everyone is more conscious of it.”
Deryk Engelland is becoming a fixture on the right wing. The Penguins experimented with Engelland at right wing against the Flyers last Thursday, and he has since played four games there. Coach Dan Bylsma was asked about Engelland at the right wing, and he explained that he doesn't view the veteran as strictly an enforcer on the fourth line. Rather, he likes what he has seen from Engelland so far.
Defenseman Robert Bortuzzo, roundly praised for his work by coaches this season, was a healthy scratch again. Center Dustin Jeffrey was the team's other scratch. The Islanders played without one of their best players, forward Michael Grabner, who was serving the second game of a two-game suspension.