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James Neal sidelined indefinitely with concussion

By Chris Peters | Hockey Writer

James Neal (18) is out indefinitely after sustaining a concussion. (USATSI)
James Neal (18) is out indefinitely after sustaining a concussion. (USATSI)

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The Pittsburgh Penguins will be without the highly-productive James Neal indefinitely after the forward sustained a concussion. Dan Bylsma confirmed the news Friday.

Neal sat out practice Thursday with what the team termed a maintenance day, but clearly there was more to it than that.

Injuries have followed Neal this season, as he has already missed 21 games of the 2013-14 campaign. He has remained a top scorer for the team, however, posting 49 points in 44 games including 22 goals.

The Pens remain far and away the top team in the Metropolitan Division, but are in a tight race with the Boston Bruins for the top overall seed and guaranteed home ice throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs. The streaking Bruins currently have a one-point advantage over the Pens.

As with any concussion, the level of uncertainty in recovery is always a concern. Not knowing when Neal will be back is always a concern. Of course, it could be a short-term issue as well and therefore not as worrisome.

The Pens are dealing with a number of injuries, as they seemingly have all season (for the last few seasons), including one to Chris Kunitz. The Penguins top-line left wing ran into a goal post with his leg. He also missed practice Thursday for a “maintenance day” but his status for Saturday's contest against the Philadelphia Flyers remains unclear.

With the Penguins relative lack of depth, losing two of the top wingers they have for any amount of time would be troubling, but considering there's still a month until the postseason, they'll take the injuries now as opposed to then.

 
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