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Penguins will be unharmed by recent injuries


February 19. 2013 9:38PM
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Normally when two top defensemen and the starting goaltender go down with injuries, it sends shockwaves throughout the organization.


But when a team has the kind of depth like the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins have on their roster, the ripple effect is minimal.


Head coach John Hynes gave an injury update after Tuesday's practice at Coal Street, and it appears that starting goaltender Jeff Zatkoff won't be ready for tonight's game in Albany. After that, it's a bit uncertain.


He's day-to-day, Hynes said, adding Zatkoff's injury isn't considered long-term as of now. We'll know more on Thursday.


For however long Zatkoff is out, the Penguins will roll with another veteran in Brad Thiessen. Serving as his backup will be Ryan Zapolski, who was signed to a PTO on Tuesday after posting a 1.49 goals against average with a .948 save percentage in 12 games with South Carolina of the ECHL this season.


The transition from Zatkoff to Thiessen as the starter figures to be a smooth one, according to defenseman Joey Mormina.


Two years ago Brad was the best goalie in the AHL. Last year he played in the NHL, so we're not hesitating for a second, Mormina said. Who knows how long Jeff will be out for, but Brad's more than capable of carrying the load. We're 100 percent confident in him.


On defense, Simon Despres and Brian Strait are both considered day-to-day. Despres could return this weekend, Hynes said, while Strait will be re-evaluated on Thursday.


Two candidates to fill their spots are Joseph Morrow and Alex Grant.


Morrow played in both games last weekend and availed himself well, Hynes said, adding he's earned a chance to fill the void on defense.


Now he needs to take his development to the next step as far as more minutes and playing in different situations, Hynes said.


After a career year last season, Grant has been a healthy scratch for most of this season due to all the depth on defense. With a booming shot from the point, Grant is a power play asset and his improved defense makes him a likely candidate for more playing time.


He definitely brings the element of power play, but to his credit the thing that's impacted us the most is not the power play but the way he's defended, Hynes said. He's defended well down low and has been a tough player to play against.


The opportunity to play on a regular basis would be a welcome respite for Grant, who has only appeared in seven games this season.


I've been working hard for it all year, he said. It would be amazing to play on a consistent basis. No one likes to sit.


Grant acknowledged that while he hasn't been playing much, he has used practices as a chance to improve his defensive play and prepare for the time when he does get into the lineup on a regular basis.


I feel like I'm getting better defensively every day, Grant said. It's an area I can always get better at and we do a lot of work on it in practice. I know my defense is


NEXT GAME


WBS Penguins at Albany Devils


7 p.m., Times Union Center, Albany





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