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Penguins notebook: Bortuzzo's physical nature paying off

| Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013, 5:30 p.m.

When the Penguins finally have their entire defensive core healthy, Robert Bortuzzo might have a hard time making his way into the lineup.

His recent play, though, is giving the coaching staff something to think about.

The Penguins are delighted with Bortuzzo's performance, particularly with the snarl that has become a trademark of his game.

His performance against Toronto last week — he recorded a game-high six hits, was a plus-2, was credited with an assist and won a convincing fight — seemed to propel him to a higher level of play.

“I did get some good feedback from that game,” Bortuzzo said.

The coaching staff wasn't pleased with Bortuzzo's performance against Philadelphia in a 2-1 loss. Following that game, Bortuzzo was a healthy scratch for a couple of weeks.

The recent rash of injuries to the Penguins' blue line saw the 6-foot-4 native of Thunder Bay, Ontario, head back into the lineup.

He has been a physical presence while playing with rookie Brian Dumoulin and even added a couple of assists against the Calgary Flames on Saturday.

“I didn't feel like I was playing poorly before,” Bortuzzo said. “But the fact of the matter is, we have a lot of great defensemen here. I know that. You've just got to play your best every game, and I'm trying to do that.”

Bortuzzo's signature moment this season came on Thursday when he was on the ice for almost the entirety of a lengthy five-on-three penalty kill against the Minnesota Wild.

He wasn't able to exit the ice for more than one minute because of Minnesota's continual pressure but played perfect positional defense in front of goalie Jeff Zatkoff.

“He was awesome during that stretch,” Zatkoff said. “The guy is a good defenseman.”

Glass is a maybe

Tanner Glass has been out of the lineup since sustaining a broken hand from a P.K. Subban shot on Nov. 23 in Montreal.

Even though logic might dictate resting Glass through the holiday break would be the prudent decision, there is a chance Glass could return to the lineup in Ottawa.

He has been practicing with the Penguins for nearly a week with no problems.

Coach Dan Bylsma called Glass a “game-time decision” for the Ottawa game.

Others still doubtful

Center Evgeni Malkin (lower-body injury), along with defensemen Brooks Orpik (concussion) and Rob Scuderi (broken ankle), continue to skate with the Penguins. However, Bylsma has strongly hinted that he would prefer to keep those players out of the lineup until the NHL resumes play following Christmas.

A new facet of the NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement states that no NHL activities may take place between Tuesday and Thursday.

Nothing to worry about

Penguins forwards Sidney Crosby, Chris Kunitz and Joe Vitale did not practice on Sunday at Consol Energy Center but are expected to take the ice against the Senators on Monday.

Crosby joked following his three-point outing on Saturday against the Flames that he might “take the option” of taking Sunday's practice off. He currently leads the NHL in scoring with 54 points.

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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