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Pittsburgh's season of survival

Updated: January 9, 2012, 2:01 PM ET
By Craig Custance

As he's done all too often during media availability, Dan Bylsma rattled through the latest Pittsburgh Penguins injuries during his Sunday news conference. His captain, Sidney Crosby, already has been shelved indefinitely, and his young franchise defenseman Kris Letang is still out with concussion-like symptoms.

It gets worse. Bylsma explained that Jordan Staal's knee injury likely will keep him out of the lineup for four to six weeks. He revealed that James Neal took a shot off his foot, breaking it, and will be further evaluated early this week. But it's bad.

"It's weeks, not days at this point," Bylsma said.

The Penguins have been remarkably resilient during Crosby's prolonged absence, but this latest wave of injuries might be more than even this group can withstand. The Pens have lost four consecutive games and have a losing record since starting the season 10-3-3.

Pittsburgh is clinging to the final Eastern Conference playoff spot with the Winnipeg Jets knocking on the door and a much-improved Washington Capitals team charging fast. Still, there are signs that the Penguins can survive. Their goal differential is plus-17, better than that of every Eastern Conference team besides the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers. They still have Evgeni Malkin and Marc-Andre Fleury, a duo capable of winning games by itself.

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