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Notebook: Penguins’ Beech in wait-and-see mode

Karen Price

COLUMBUS, Ohio — With the Penguins’ preseason game schedule now complete and final cuts soon to follow, all that players like Kris Beech can do now is sit and wait.

“Definitely, I think about it,” Beech said of the countdown to cuts. “But I’ve worked hard, and that’s all I can expect from myself is to work hard and try to put myself in a position where I can be successful.”

Beech helped his chances by contributing what turned out to be the winning goal Saturday night in a 2-1 victory over the Washington Capitals, but he has plenty of competition. There are 19 forwards left in training camp, a number that likely will have to be reduced by five before the season starts on Oct. 10.

Of those 19, four essentially split time between the NHL and the AHL last season: Ramzi Abid, Rico Fata, Milan Kraft and Reid Simpson, and seven spent either all or most of the season in the AHL: Colby Armstrong, Beech, Brian Holzinger, Konstantin Koltsov, Tom Kostopoulos, Eric Meloche and Matt Murley. Ryan Malone played college hockey at St. Cloud State.

There are also 11 defensemen and four goaltenders still in camp. The roster limit is 23.

CHRISTENSEN RETURNS TO JUNIORS

Forward Erik Christensen decided to return to his junior team, the Kamloops Blazers, on Saturday after he and general manager Craig Patrick were unable to come to terms on a contract agreement. The Penguins have until June to sign Christensen, 19, a third round pick (69th overall) in 2002 who was the Western Hockey League’s leading scorer last season with 54 goals and 54 assists for 108 points. This will be his fifth year with Kamloops.

“I don’t think it’s going to hurt him to go back and do what he did last year,” Patrick said. “He wants to prove to us that he’s worth the money he’s asking for, and it’s a good circumstance for him to go back to.”

Christensen was assigned to Wilkes-Barre on Sept. 20.

ARMSTRONG CONTINUES TO IMPRESS

Forward Colby Armstrong used his performance Saturday night to earn another game Sunday night and one last chance to show the coaching staff what he can do before final cuts. Last night’s preseason finale against the Columbus Blue Jackets was Armstrong’s fourth game of seven in the preseason.

“He had another real good game,” coach Eddie Olczyk said after Saturday night’s game, in which Armstrong scored a goal and had another good opportunity stopped by goaltender Olaf Kolzig. “I continue to be impressed with the way Colby’s played.”

Armstrong, 20, was slowed early in camp by Osgood-Schlatter disease, a condition that usually affects athletes at puberty. The quadriceps muscles begin to pull on the attachment point of the patellar tendon, leading to swelling and soreness in the knee. The condition does eventually go away with treatment.

SLAP SHOTS

The Penguins will have a day off today after playing three games in three nights and seven in the last 10. Patrick said the staff will use the opportunity to begin making final cuts.


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