James Neal Injury: Updates on Penguins Star's Status

Justin OnslowContributor IIMay 1, 2013

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 1:  James Neal #18 of the Pittsburgh Penguins checks Kyle Okposo #21 of the New York Islanders in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2013 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Consol Energy Center on May 1, 2013 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Pittsburgh Penguins right winger James Neal left Wednesday’s playoff contest against the New York Islanders following a power play in the second period, as reported by Shelly Anderson of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:


UPDATE: Tuesday, May 8, at 7:07 p.m. ET by Ian Hanford

After much speculation, Neal will return to the lineup for the Penguins in Game 4, according to the team's official playing roster (via NHL.com).


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UPDATE: Friday, May 3, at 7:29 p.m. ET by Ian Hanford

According to Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter Dave Molinari, Neal was scratched from the Penguins lineup for Game 2 vs. the Islanders:


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Neal saw just 8:09 of action to that point, but his presence was greatly felt after missing the team’s previous eight contests with a concussion.

As Josh Yohe of the Tribune-Review detailed with this tweet, Neal’s injury was the result of a slash, and he likely won’t return given the 5-0 lead Pittsburgh held over New York at the time he left the ice:

Neal has recorded 36 points in 40 games with the Penguins this season, including 21 goals. Given the injury troubles of Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh should hope Neal’s injury won’t keep him off the ice for any extended period of time.

The 25-year-old hasn’t struggled with injury concerns in the past. In his previous four seasons in the NHL (two-plus with Dallas), the winger has played in at least 77 games per year, save for the shortened 2013 season.

Neal has proved to be a tremendous impact player for the star-studded Penguins in his two seasons with the team, coming off a 40-goal, 81-point campaign a season ago. His 36 points this year rank him No. 43 in the league, despite his time off the ice at the end of the regular season.

Should Pittsburgh hang on to its sizable lead in Game 1, the Penguins will be in good position to weather the storm of potentially missing Neal in subsequent contests.