Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 12/27/13
James Neal is one of the few Penguins forwards still healthy. When the Penguins roll into Carolina tonight to take on the Hurricanes for the second game of a four game road trip, they will most likely re-gain the services of winger Tanner Glass, as well as defenseman Brooks Orpik, who has been sidelined since early December with a concussion. However, they will be without the services of 1st-line winger Pascal Dupuis, who left Monday’s 5-0 loss to the Senators with an undisclosed lower body injury.  If I had to guess, I would venture that Dupuis either pulled or tore a tendon in his knee, just the most recent in a long list of debilitating injuries for this Penguins unit.  While he has not been formally diagnosed yet, the general concuss is that he will miss a significant amount of time, however just exactly how long we won’t know until Dupuis is further evaluated by team doctors. Dupuis’ absence throws another wrench into an already decimated Penguins roster, and one that will most certainly have some dramatic effects on line combinations for the foreseeable future, starting with tonight’s contest with the Hurricanes. A stab at lines:  As reported from the Pens morning skate, line rushes were as follows: Kunitz-Crosby-Vitale/Conner-Jokinen-Neal/ Zolnierczyk-Sutter-Kobasew/ Glass-Sill-Adams And the ‘D’ pairings: Orpik-Engelland/ Niskanen-Maatta /Bortuzzo-Despres /Scuderi-Dumoulin You know your team is in dire straits when Joe Vitale is you first line winger playing with Sidney Crosby. Sigh. Evgeni Malkin skated, but is unlikely to play tonight. Hopefully, Pittsburgh will be able to rebound from the shutout loss in Ottawa in Monday night.  Young guns Olli Maata, Simon Despres, and Robert Bortuzzo have been great, the return of Orpik to the blue-line will certainly ease some of the pressure, but with Dupuis gone any return to normalcy is essentially a wash. Scouting the Hurricanes: Carolina is also a team that is no stranger to injury.  After the morning skate, the team announced that forward Jiri Tlusty would sit out tonight’s contest after an appendectomy, and that they would be going with  backup goalie Justin Peters in net. Carolina currently sits 7th in the Metro-terrible division with 36 points, and as a testament to just how bad the Eastern Conference is, are only seven points out of the wildcard spot for the playoffs.  The Penguins have won their only two previous meeting with the Canes this year, by scores of 5-2 and 3-1 respectively.
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