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Aftermath: D’Agostini injured; Vokoun options; and what the Pens want before the season.

PENGUINS 3, BLACKHAWKS 2 (SO)

Penguins goals: Kris Letang (2)

Shootout: Goals to James Neal, Sidney Crosby; Jeff Zatkoff (2-for-2)

 

All Down the (Story) Line(s):

 

= RW Matt D’Agostini played only two shifts and is officially day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

= G Tomas Vokoun (blood clot) continues to recover, but the Penguins do not have an update on his status.

= AN UPDATE: Vokoun CAN be placed on the long-term injury list when regular-season rosters are set Sunday. IF that happens, he would need to miss a minimum of 10 games or 24 days.

[A player on LTI does not count against the salary cap ($64.3 million) until his return. The Penguins must shave about $1 million from their cap to become compliant by Sunday.]

The Penguins have yet to determine a long-term strategy for Vokoun, who is out indefinitely. Though there is potential for some salary-cap manipulation ­without making a trade – such as winger Beau Bennett being reassigned then recalled for the regular-season opener (a move similar one the Penguins made with winger Eric Tangradi to open the 2010-11 season) – do not rule out GM Ray Shero moving a bottom-tier forward or defenseman before the real season opens.

The Penguins are believed to be looking for upgrades to their bottom-six forwards, and tryout-contract invitee Chuck Kobasew could win himself a spot despite the cap considerations.

= Also do not rule out the acquisition of a veteran goalie, though the vibe from within the organization is that Jeff Zatkoff (30 saves on Monday) is likely to be on the roster when the Devils come to Consol Energy Center on Oct. 3.

Really, Zatkoff’s status seems to depend more on what options are available to the Penguins, and if management/coaches feel starter Marc-Andre Fleury is up to the task of carrying a bigger load than originally anticipated for October.

Noteworthy is that the Penguins’ October schedule is favorable on days off between games and home games.

= Coach Dan Bylsma – and several notable veterans – was not pleased with the first two periods of this fifth exhibition game. The Penguins looked lethargic, disengaged and sloppy. All involved spoke of the need for a better “look” in the exhibition-season finale at Detroit on Wednesday.

Betting anything based off how veteran players look during camp or exhibition games is unwise, certainly no way to get rich, but to date the Penguins have played one exhibition game looking as though they were interested. That was at Chicago.

= A likely penultimate round of roster cuts will come Tuesday, with 2012 first-round picks Derrick Pouliot and Olli Maatta probably headed back to their respective junior clubs. They can only play in the NHL or at junior this season.

 

Be Excellent to each other,

Rossi

 

Author: Rob Rossi

Rob Rossi has covered the Penguins for parts of every season that Sidney Crosby has played in Pittsburgh. So, since 2005. He has led the Trib's NHL coverage since 2007, when he became the primary Penguins beat reporter. He joined the Tribune-Review in November 2002. Rossi, 35, is local chapter president of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association. He also dabbles in radio, as ClearChannel's "Penguins Insider," and TV, as "NHL Insider" for Root Sports Pittsburgh, and as a semi-regular contributor to The Final Word, a Sunday sports show that airs on WPXI. In 2012, Rossi was recognized nationally by Penn State's John Curley Center for Sports Journalism for his coverage of youth sports for a Trib series that investigated concussion protocol. In 2013, he teamed with Carl Prine for an investigative piece about athletes' charities what was honored regionally. A graduate of West Virginia University and Keystone Oaks High School, Rossi was raised in Crafton and Green Tree and currently resides in Brookline. He is currently working on the authorized biography of Evgeni Malkin. Follow him on Twitter: @RobRossi_Trib

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