Penguins notebook: Defense dealt blow with Scuderi injury
TORONTO — Dan Bylsma had a healthy defense corps for less than four periods.
Rob Scuderi appeared to favor his left leg after absorbing a hit near the boards by Toronto’s David Clarkson with about 21 seconds remaining in the first period of the Penguins’ game at Air Canada Centre on Saturday night.
Scuderi was helped to the dressing room by head athletic trainer Chris Stewart and left winger Chris Kunitz. He did not return for the second period.
Byslma said after the game that initial medical evaluations revealed nothing definitive. Scuderi will be reevaluated upon returning to Pittsburgh, Bylsma said.
Scuderi has not missed a game since the 2009-10 season, his first with Los Angeles after signing with the Kings as a free agent. He has missed only 10 games dating to his last season with the Penguins (2008-09).
Health had just turned in favor of the Penguins’ defense.
Kris Letang made his debut Friday night. That marked the first time that Bylsma had all of his defensemen available.
If Scuderi is not available at Carolina on Monday, Roberto Bortuzzo would return to the lineup. He has played in only three of the past seven games.
Another week for Neal
Evgeni Malkin is facing another week without his preferred linemate.
Right winger James Neal (upper-body injury) is not expected to resume practicing with the Penguins this week, Bylsma said.
Neal missed a 10th consecutive game at Toronto. He has not played or practiced since Oct. 3, when he was injured in the regular-season opener against New Jersey.
Neal, when healthy, has served as Malkin’s regular right winger on the second line the past two seasons.
Neal is on the long-term injury list. That designation requires a player to miss at least 10 games and 24 days, so Neal is not even eligible to play until Monday night at Carolina — though, he will miss that contest, too.
Initially, Bylsma turned to second-year winger Beau Bennett to fill the second-line opening. However, Bennett (lower body) has missed six straight contests because of an injury suffered at Tampa Bay on Oct. 12.
Bylsma said Saturday that he was not sure if a return to practice this week was likely for Bennett, who is on injured reserve.
Looking to spark Malkin, who had gone two games without a point, Bylsma started Matt D’Agostini as the second-line right winger at Toronto.
D’Agostini made his regular-season debut. He was injured (lower body) during the Penguins’ second exhibition game.
Chuck Kobasew had played to Malkin’s right on the No. 2 scoring line for five consecutive games. He failed to score in those contests, and Kobasew had not produced a point since beginning the season with goals in each of the first two games.
Around the boards
Forwards Dustin Jeffrey and Jayson Megna joined Bortuzzo as Penguins’ healthy scratches against Toronto. Jeffrey had not played in the last five games.