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

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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

 

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Author: Rob Rossi

Rob Rossi is the lead sports columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has been called many names, but “Rossi” is the one to which he most often responds. He joined the Trib in November 2002 and was promoted to the columnist role in July 2014. Previously, he had covered the NHL’s Penguins (2006-14) and MLB’s Pirates (2006), while also working on beats associated with the NFL’s Steelers (2005-06) and the NCAA’s Pitt (2004-06). He has won national and local awards for his coverage of youth concussions and athletes’ charities. Also, he is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association executive committee and the Pittsburgh chapter chair. Raised in Crafton and Green Tree and a graduate of West Virginia University, he has covered a Super Bowl, All-Star Games in baseball and hockey, the NCAA basketball tournament and over 100 Stanley Cup playoff games, including the Cup Final twice. Oh, and his sports reporting has led him to brief chats with Mick Jagger and Bruce Springsteen; so that’s pretty cool. He is a regular contributor on TV with WPXI, Root Sports Pittsburgh and TSN. Also, he is the authorized biographer of Penguins star Evgeni Malkin.

 
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