Whitney awaits word on his role
There was virtually no chance defenseman Ryan Whitney would sleep well Monday night knowing he was only hours from making his 2008-09 debut when the Penguins face the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight at Mellon Arena.
Of course, there is a very good chance Whitney stayed awake wondering what role he might have, if any, on the Penguins' No. 1 power-play unit.
"They haven't said one word to me about who I'm playing with, if I'm on the (power play) or anything," Whitney said recently.
All Whitney knows is he is finally set to put behind him nearly two years of anguish and pain provided by his left foot, which was surgically repaired in August to correct a deformity that first turned troublesome a month before the 2007 Stanley Cup playoffs.
Recovery from that surgery kept him from playing in the Penguins' previous 33 games this season and limited his production last season, when his point total dropped by 19 from the previous campaign.
Whitney, a skilled defenseman in the second year of a six-season deal worth $24 million, scored 12 goals and recorded 40 points last season. That's compared to 14 goals and 59 points tallied in 2006-07, a breakout campaign in which he became a fixture at the "off" point on the Penguins' top power-play unit.
He was replaced at that spot by center Evgeni Malkin late last season. Malkin is now manning the right point due to defenseman Sergei Gonchar's injury-related absence. Defensemen Kris Letang, Philippe Boucher and Alex Goligoski have split shifts at the "off" point this season.
Whitney scored 16 goals and recorded 55 power-play points over the past two seasons.
His return tonight may be a sign of good fortune to come for the Penguins. Defenseman Hal Gill, on injured reserve with a left shoulder injury, said Sunday his recovery is "going good" and did not rule out a return before month's end.
Gill has not played since Dec. 6, when he was injured late in a loss at Ottawa.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penguins’ Lovejoy embracing defensive pairing with Pouliot
- Penguins notebook: Road trip increases in difficulty
- Penguins notebook: Crosby says he would play goal if needed
- Penguins need trade-deadline acquisitions to bring toughness
- Starkey: Penguins still forging identity
- Starkey: Penguins not mortgaging future
- Crosby, Malkin chase scoring title amid defense-minded league
- Penguins forwards struggle in loss to Avalanche