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Penguins notebook: Speedy Gibbons earning accolades for recent play

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Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014, 7:27 p.m.

EDMONTON, Alberta — Brian Gibbons is still receiving accolades for his play at the AHL level, but he is more interested in remaining at the NHL level.

Coach Dan Bylsma sounds willing to give him that opportunity.

Gibbons, who was named to the AHL All-Star team Wednesday, will play with Canadian Olympians Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz on the Penguins top line for a third consecutive game Friday night in Edmonton.

“Brian's last four games have been different,” Bylsma said. “He's been a factor with his speed. It's been evident. That's something he has to bring.”

Gibbons, a Boston College product, scored on a breakaway in the first period against the Canucks on Tuesday. He produced 27 points in 23 games while playing for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

His recent play has done wonders for Gibbons' confidence. So, too, was something he has been observing for a couple of years.

“I've seen guys that I played with at Wilkes-Barre and in college that have had success at the NHL level,” Gibbons said. “I think seeing that made me believe I could be successful at this level.”

He has produced five points in 11 NHL games but playing with Crosby and Kunitz should elevate his number of scoring opportunities. Still, Bylsma explained that Gibbons is being given this chance because of his recent play, and that he doesn't want him to be in awe of Crosby.

“He can't defer to Sid,” Bylsma said. “His element is speed. That's what he's been able to bring and he wants to continue on that line, he's got to bring that.”

No matter how long Gibbons remains on Crosby's line, the 25-year-old Boston native was proud of the AHL honor.

“It's exciting,” he said. “I worked really hard all summer. It's good to know that the work I put in is paying off.”

• The Penguins practiced for nearly an hour Thursday at Rexall Place in Edmonton. No injuries were suffered in Tuesday's game in Vancouver, as all available players participated.

• Crosby, playing for only the third time in Edmonton, was bombarded with two more media sessions with dozens of reporters. He has held seven scrums since arriving in Western Canada.

• Edmonton has long been known for having the best ice in the NHL, and while its reputation might have dipped slightly over the years, the Penguins were impressed. “It was great,” forwardJoe Vitale said. “Quick. Fast. Hard. Great, great ice.”

— Josh Yohe

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