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Penguins notebook: Olympians appreciate recent rest

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By Josh Yohe
Thursday, March 13, 2014, 5:24 p.m.

Before meeting with the media following the Penguins' 2-0 win against Washington on Tuesday, coach Dan Bylsma walked briskly around Consol Energy Center's lower level, searching for his family.

“Haven't seen much of them lately,” he explained.

He isn't alone.

Bylsma, assistant coach Tony Granato, general manager Ray Shero and the seven Penguins who participated in the Winter Olympics at Sochi can relate.

After spending two weeks at the Olympics, those Penguins were home for one game before starting a grueling five-game road trip.

Taking care of their bodies has been important.

“My legs and body feel good,” center Sidney Crosby said. “Sleep is more my goal right now. If I get that figured out, everything else will be good.”

Forward Jussi Jokinen, who played six games in Sochi, said his body feels better than expected.

And while defenseman Brooks Orpik explained that no one's body feels particularly good this time of year, he said simply being able to sleep in his own bed at night has been refreshing.

“It's just nice to be home,” he said. “It was tough being away for so long, then you're barely home before being on the road again. A lot of guys and their families weren't too happy about it.”

Banged up

Star wingers James Neal and Chris Kunitz were absent from practice Thursday though coach Dan Bylsma expects both to be available Saturday in Philadelphia.

Bylsma said both players are dealing with bumps and bruises.

Kunitz's “bumps and bruises” were probably attributable to a third-period spill against the Capitals on Tuesday. Kunitz was barging toward the Washington net when defenseman Mike Green yanked him down, sending the Canadian Olympian into the goal post.

His leg made contact with the post and appeared to bend awkwardly, similar to what happened to Tampa Bay star Steven Stamkos earlier this season. Stamkos sustained a broken leg, but X-rays showed Kunitz would be OK.

“He never left the bench,” Bylsma said. “I think he missed a shift. The collision he had, you know you're going to be dealing with a contusion or a heavy blow to the leg. His ankle hit first. Then we saw it hit above the knee. He probably wasn't feeling too good yesterday.”

Big Red to Youngstown

Former Penguins forward Troy Loney and his wife, Aafke, became co-owners of the Youngstown Phantoms (USHL) on Wednesday. The couple is also expected to run the franchise's day-to-day operations.

Loney won two Stanley Cups as a role player for the Penguins. His son, Ty, previously played for the Phantoms, which gave Loney an introduction to the Youngstown area.

A successful businessman following his hockey career, Loney said he hopes his experience in the hockey world should help him make the Phantoms a hotter commodity. He commented that he has learned much about the hockey business from knowing the likes of Mario Lemieux, The DeBartolo family and Michael Eisner, who owned the Ducks when Loney played in Anaheim during the 1993-94 season.

“We are really excited,” Loney said. “We're looking forward to moving this organization forward.”

Early start

The Penguins are reminding fans attending Sunday's game against the Flyers that the contest will begin at 12:30 p.m. at Consol Energy Center. Game time was originally scheduled for 7:30 p.m. but was moved to the afternoon slot by NBC.

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