Penguins notebook: Injured Goc could return during Round 1

| Wednesday, April 23, 2014, 11:18 a.m.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Center Marcel Goc could return to play in Round 1 of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Goc joined the Penguins for a morning practice Wednesday before Game 4 against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena.

He did not play, missing a 12th consecutive game because of an ankle injury.

Goc practiced with teammates Tuesday for the first time since he was injured, and after the morning session Wednesday, he stayed on the ice for additional conditioning exercises.

There are two days before Game 5 on Saturday night, and Penguins coach Dan Bylsma did not rule out Goc being available for later-series action.

“It's a possibility,” Bylsma said. “I'd like to see him play in Round 1.”

Goc was not available for comment per a Penguins policy on injured players. Acquired at the NHL trade deadline March 5, he was the club's third-line center at the time of his injury.

Gibbons out

Winger Brian Gibbons did not play in Game 4. He also did not practice.

Gibbons was injured early in the Penguins' Game 2 loss, favoring his shoulder after a collision with Blue Jackets center Ryan Johansen.

Winger Jayson Megna again replaced Gibbons in the Penguins' lineup for Game 4.

Maatta missing

Defenseman Olli Maatta was not nominated for the Calder Trophy, awarded annually to the NHL's best rookie. NHL writers instead gave more votes to Colorado center Nathan MacKinnon and a couple of Tampa Bay forwards: Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson.

Many Penguins said they were disappointed but not surprised. Only 10 defensemen — three in the past 25 years — have received the Calder Trophy.

“That's how the league works,” winger Jussi Jokinen said. “All the forwards who get the points get the recognition. But, to me, he had a pretty remarkable season. As a team, we know his value. We feel sorry for him that he didn't get it. I think all of our team thinks he deserved it.”

Maatta shrugged off the perceived snub and insisted he was not counting on a finalist nod.

Maatta, 19, produced nine goals and 29 points in 78 games during the regular season.

Though he secured a roster spot only because of Kris Letang's knee injury late in training camp, Maatta quickly won over coaches and teammates.

Bylsma said Maatta was used on a top defensive pairing — along with Matt Niskanen — for about 30 games when injuries depleted the Penguins' defense corps.

Select members of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association vote on most NHL Awards, including the Calder. The winners are announced at the NHL Awards Show on June 24.

The league will announce finalists for its awards over the next two weeks.

Almost famous

Jimmy Fallon was partially correct on “The Tonight Show” Tuesday. During a skit poking fun at numerous NHL players, Fallon said Niskanen is likely the NHL's poorest darts player and forward Beau Bennett is most likely to “frost his tips.”

Bennett jokingly took exception.

“I could see where they're coming from,” Bennett said, referring to his hair. “But that is all natural California sun.”

Niskanen, however, said Fallon's joke about him might have been accurate.

“Not that good,” Niskanen said of his darts game. “He called it.”

Niskanen also said he didn't think the picture used on “The Tonight Show” was particularly flattering.

“I don't know what I could have done differently,” Niskanen said. “An angle? A shadow? I do look cross-eyed.”

Around the boards

Game 5 between the Penguins and Blue Jackets will be at 7 p.m. Saturday at Consol Energy Center, the NHL announced Wednesday. Tickets remain available at Ticketmaster's website and outlets and the arena box office. ... The Penguins made no lineup changes for Game 4.

Rob Rossi and Josh Yohe are staff writers for Trib Total Media. Reach them at or via Twitter @RobRossi_Trib and or via Twitter @JoshYohe_Trib.

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