Penguins notebook: Neal, Bennett end lengthy absences
ST. LOUIS — James Neal taking the ice for the Penguins was the real deal on Saturday night.
Neal returned against the St. Louis Blues at Scottrade Center. An upper-body injury, aggravated in the season opener on Oct. 3, had forced Neal to miss 15 consecutive games.
Neal, who resumed skating this week, said after a morning practice that he did not “have to show (coaches) anything.”
“If I'm ready, I'm ready,” Neal said, adding that he was as “close to game shape as possible.”
Neal credited his offseason training program — overseen by former Penguins player Gary Roberts — for building a “base” that allowed him to quickly regain his cardio conditioning after only a week of on-ice workouts.
The return of Neal overshadowed forward Beau Bennett's comeback.
Bennett had missed 11 consecutive games because of a lower-body injury.
Neal and Bennett were removed from the injured reserve list, leaving the Penguins with only three players of that designation.
Goalie Tomas Vokoun (blood clot) has not played this season and is out at least through December and possibly three additional months.
Defenseman Rob Scuderi (broken ankle) and winger Chuck Kobasew (broken foot) are out for at least several more weeks.
Three's no crowd
Defenseman Paul Martin did not play against St. Louis, though coach Dan Bylsma offered no injury-related reason for the absence.
Martin did not practice Friday because of a maintenance day — a term the Penguins often use to explain absences for nagging injuries or ones not fully diagnosed by club physicians.
Only three Penguins defensemen — veterans Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen and rookie Olli Maatta — have played in all 17 games. Martin had not missed a game before Saturday night.
Martin's absence forced Deryk Engelland to play at his natural position because the Penguins carried only six healthy defensemen.
Engelland had played eight contests as a checking-line forward.
Rob Rossi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @RobRossi_Trib.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penguins confident Pouliot will be healthy, ready for camp
- Penguins GM insists new coach Johnston was no afterthought
- Penguins goalie Fleury likely to enter season without new contract
- Penguins coach says team needs to ‘lessen the load’ on Crosby
- Penguins alumni rally to help Mitch Wilson, who is fighting ALS