Penguins notebook: Maatta plays despite illness
NEW YORK — Penguins rookie defenseman Olli Maatta played in Game 6 against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Sunday night.
An afternoon of rest and fluids was exactly what the doctor ordered.
Maatta was excused from a morning practice after turning up ill, several players said. Penguins medical personnel sent him back to the club's Manhattan hotel, which is only a couple of blocks from the Garden. The Penguins are one of only two NHL teams to travel with a physician.
During the morning practice, Maatta's place among the top-six on defense was filled by veteran Deryk Engelland.
Maatta, 19, has appeared in each of the Penguins' 12 playoff games after playing in 78 of 82 regular-season games.
Neither the Penguins nor Rangers changed the lineups they deployed in Game 5 on Friday night. The Penguins have used the same lineup for four of six games in the series.
Engelland has not played since April 12 in the Penguins' penultimate regular-season game.
Since the playoffs started, he has joined other reserves as part of the “Black Aces,” a group of players who take the ice after practice to stay sharp in case they are called upon because of injury.
Engelland said he is “definitely not” concerned about the long layoff between game action.
“I've been working after practice with (strength and conditioning coach Mike) Kadar in the gym,” said Engelland, who has not played in a playoff game since the Eastern Conference final last postseason.
“That was as intense as it's going to get.”
The Penguins again played without longest-tenured defenseman Brooks Orpik, who missed a second consecutive game because of injury.
Orpik's right knee buckled inward during a collision with winger Mats Zuccarello in the first period of Game 4 on Wednesday night. Prior to that contest, Orpik had missed five consecutive games with an injury.
The injuries are not related, Bylsma said.
There is no timetable for Orpik's recovery, but the Penguins do not project a quick return from this injury.
Penguins assistant coach Tony Granato said he has not been approached for the coaching vacancy with Washington.
Granato said he would not speak with the Capitals or any other NHL clubs with coaching vacancies until after the Penguins' playoff run. He added that though he would like to again run the bench for an NHL club, he is happy in his fifth season as the Penguins' top assistant.
Granato served two stints as Colorado's coach (2002-04, 2008-09).
The Capitals fired former coach Adam Oates and allowed the contract of longtime general manager George McPhee to expire April 27.
Rob Rossi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @RobRossi_Trib.
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