Penguins notebook: Bennett's injury potentially serious
MONTREAL — The Penguins could be without forward Beau Bennett for a while.
Bennett was injured Friday against the New York Islanders and did not join the team for its two-game road trip to Montreal and Boston.
When asked how much time Bennett might miss, Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said, “Longer than days right now. Longer than that.”
Bennett is still being evaluated in Pittsburgh. The team likely will provide more information in a couple of days.
Recently promoted to the Penguins' top-six, Bennett was skating on a line with center Sidney Crosby and scored his first goal of the season Wednesday.
Bennett missed 11 games earlier this season after sustaining a lower-body injury in Tampa on Oct. 12.
The winger commented before Monday's game against Anaheim that he finally was starting to feel comfortable this season; he played four games before the injury in Tampa.
His coach agreed that Bennett was starting to play solid hockey.
“I thought the game in Washington was a real good game for him,” Bylsma said. “He missed a lot of hockey early in the season. Getting his feet under him, adjusting to a top-six role. He was just starting to play his best. Obviously, it's disappointing.”
Bennett, who turns 22 on Wednesday, has a lengthy injury history.
Along with the two setbacks he has endured this season, Bennett was only able to participate in 10 games at the University of Denver during the 2011-12 season because of a broken wrist.
Playing in Montreal is always a special event for the Penguins from Quebec, and two of them have produced some of their finest hockey at Bell Centre.
Defenseman Kris Letang entered Saturday's game with 14 points in 17 career games against the Canadiens, his finest point-per-game total against any Eastern Conference team. He scored a memorable overtime goal in Montreal in 2011 — while playing with a concussion — and produced 11 points in his first nine career games in his hometown.
Right wing Pascal Dupuis, a native of nearby Laval, Quebec, also enjoys playing in Montreal. He has scored five goals in 13 career games against the Canadiens, his finest goal-per-game output against any Eastern Conference team. His only better career road numbers are against Carolina and Calgary.
Eye on the American
Bylsma immediately recognized that young forward Alex Galchenyuk, now in his second season with Montreal, was a special talent.
But he didn't want to draft him.
“Going into the draft,” Bylsma said, “I in no way, shape or form wanted to draft Alex because that meant we'd be picking one, two or three. I didn't want that as a coach because I probably wouldn't be the coach.”
Bylsma, though, could be Galchenyuk's coach in Sochi if he picks him for Team USA.
The coach wasn't biting.
“He's in a group of younger U.S. players that are very talented,” Bylsma said. “He's a guy we're watching.”
Homecoming for Martin
Penguins assistant Jacques Martin coached the Canadiens for three seasons. His high point was in 2010, when Montreal shocked the defending-champion Penguins in seven games.
Bylsma praised Martin's mind for defense when asked how he has aided the staff.
“Mostly for our team, we want to focus on defending away from the puck,” Bylsma said. “That mindset and some of those tactics he's really brought to our team.”