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Playoffs 2013Pens mum on James Neal's availability

Posted: Saturday, May 4, 2013 | 08:34 PM

Categories: Hockey Night in Canada, New York Islanders, PIT vs NYI, Pittsburgh Penguins, Playoffs 2013

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Penguins winger James Neal, right, was injured during the second period of Game 1 against the New York Islanders. (Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) Penguins winger James Neal, right, was injured during the second period of Game 1 against the New York Islanders. (Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

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The Pittsburgh Penguins received plenty of good news during an off-day in their best-of-seven series against the New York Islanders. Practising in New York on Saturday because of Sunday's noon ET start, the Penguins were joined at practice by right wing James Neal.
PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins received plenty of good news during an off-day in their best-of-seven series against the New York Islanders.

Practising in New York on Saturday because of Sunday's noon ET start, the Penguins were joined at practice by right wing James Neal.

The former 40-goal scorer was injured during the second period of Game 1 and has not played since. He was seen departing Consol Energy Center on Thursday with a noticeable limp, enough to make many observers believe that Neal might be finished for the series.

However, Neal made it through the majority of the Penguins' practice at Nassau Coliseum with no apparent problems. It remains unknown whether he will play on Sunday. For that matter, the nature and severity of the injury remain unknown because the Penguins are being more stern than usual regarding their injury policy.

In other words, if someone is injured, the Penguins aren't tipping their hand.

Speaking of the injured, or formerly injured, Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby declared that he emerged from Game 2 of the series unscathed. Crosby, still adjusting to playing with a full-face visor because of a broken jaw, admitted to being rusty and not quite in game shape during Game 2.

But he also said that his jaw feels fine and that he had no problems.

Crosby practised with the Penguins on Saturday and will be available on Sunday.

The only possible concern for the Penguins is that their other superstar, Evgeni Malkin, did not practise with the team on Saturday. He did work out on his own before the practice and isn't known to be dealing with an injury.

Still, he has endured shoulder problems throughout the season. It is assumed that he will play in Game 3.

The only other Penguins' regular who didn't skate on Saturday was defenceman Brooks Orpik, who has been bothered by a lower-body injury for 10 days. It appears unlikely that he will play on Sunday.

Concerns with Fleury?

Perhaps of more concern for the Penguins is their mental health, especially when pertaining to their goaltender. Marc-Andre Fleury, terrific in Game 1, allowed four goals in Game 2, one of which was of the embarrassing variety. Kyle Okposo's game-winning goal came courtesy of Fleury, who backed into the shot that bounced off the boards and knocked it into his own net.

Fleury has endured similar such incidents in his career, his sometimes dynamic work often accompanied by stunning bad goals.

Speaking with reporters on Saturday - Fleury did not talk with the media following Friday night's 4-3 loss, which is extremely unusual for him - the goaltender expressed plenty of confidence that he will play well for the remainder of the series.

For their part, the Islanders are currently exhibiting plenty of confidence.

New York accomplished its goal of getting a split against the mighty Penguins in Pittsburgh and now gets to host a playoff game for the first time since 2007.

The Penguins did go 2-0 on Long Island this season.

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