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Jan 10, 2014; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Pittsburgh Penguins forward James Neal (18) and Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (93) looks for a loose puck during the third period at Rexall Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Penguins: James Neal Day-To-Day; Nick Drazenovic Called Up From AHL

It turns out some “maintenance days” are more serious than others.

Pittsburgh Penguins winger James Neal sat out Monday’s team practice with what was termed a rest day, but when he didn’t work out with the team Tuesday, the matter of his health became a little more serious.

Pens coach Dan Bylsma told the press after the skate that Neal was officially “day-to-day” with an upper-body injury. Bylsma was clear to reiterate that this was a new issue for Neal, not a re-aggravation of the abdominal strain that kept the sharpshooter out of the lineup for about a month early in the season.

Despite playing in just 27 of 47 games thus far, Neal is fourth on the Penguins in points with 36. He has 17 goals, third-best behind Sidney Crosby‘s 25 and Chris Kunitz‘ 24.

Neal may play Wednesday against Washington, but his uncertain status made the Penguins’ morning recall of forward Nick Drazenovic from the AHL even more necessary. As it was, Pittsburgh had less than a full complement of forwards for practice at Consol Energy Center, since Brian Gibbons and Joe Vitale were both absent with injuries.

Vitale was placed on the injured reserve early Tuesday, while Gibbons is on a “week-to-week” basis with a lower-body injury sustained Saturday at Calgary.

Drazenovic, 27, has played in 11 NHL games since being drafted by the Blues in 2005. The native of British Columbia has 20 points (7g, 13a) in 26 contests for the AHL’s Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

Drazenovic, who spent last year with the Blue Jackets organization, will wear No. 40 for Pittsburgh.

Tags: James Neal Joe Vitale Nick Drazenovic Pittsburgh Penguins

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