NHL notes: Pens 'making the playoffs'

The Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby (L) chats with Penguins' General Manager Ray Shero on...

The Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby (L) chats with Penguins' General Manager Ray Shero on November 21, 2011. (REUTERS/David DeNoma)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:11 PM ET

It's not exactly up there in Joe Namath territory but Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Ray Shero offered up a guarantee of his own Thursday.

"We're making the playoffs, put it that way," Shero told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "Anything less is unacceptable. "Just making the playoffs is never our goal."

The Penguins, losers of six in a row, are ninth in the Eastern Conference and in danger of missing the post-season. Captain Sidney Crosby is out for the foreseeable future, as is defenceman Kris Letang and forward Jordan Staal, but Shero clearly has confidence his team will turn it around.

"I like the team we have now," Shero said. "We have good hockey players. We just need to play better. And hopefully I have all those guys back by the trade deadline so I don't have to make a deal."

Shero told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that the team has not considered shutting down Crosby for the season. But his teammates aren't expecting him back in the lineup any time soon.

Defenceman Brooks Orpik says he believes Crosby isn't "anywhere close to coming back" even though the star forward is expected to start skating again this weekend in Florida .

SETOGUCHI SORRY

A contrite Devin Setoguchi emerged from the Minnesota Wild doghouse Thursday

Wild coach Mike Yeo sat Setoguchi out for Tuesday's game against the San Jose Sharks, his former team, after the veteran forward missed a team meeting earlier in the day. But Setoguchi was back on the top line with Mikko Koivu and Dany Heatley during practice.

"There's no excuse," Setoguchi said to the Minnesota Star-Tribune. "We have one job, and that's to come to the rink. It's my fault. I paid for it. Now I'll try to get back in the trust of the coach and the team. I've just got to earn it back with some hard work."

Setoguchi hasn't exactly been lighting it up this season. He has just eight goals and six assists in 30 games.

DOGS DENY DEAL

Rumours that Shane Doan will be traded to the New York Rangers are nothing but hot air.

So sayeth Coyotes general manager Don Maloney, according to ESPN.com.

Maloney said there is "no truth whatsoever" that Doan, who's set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, would be traded to the Rangers. Doan reportedly has a no-trade clause to he'd have to approve any deal.

Three months ago Maloney told the Arizona Republic that he wanted to re-sign Doan, a Coyotes lifer. But with the Coyotes three points out of a playoff spot, the 35-year-old could be dangled as trade bait prior to the Feb. 27 deadline.

UMBERGER CONCUSSED

Columbus Blue Jackets forward R.J. Umberger left practice Thursday with concussion-like symptoms, according to coach Todd Richards.

"He wasn't feeling right, and by that, I mean it was his head," Richards said. "He'll be on the shelf for a little bit here."

Umberger, who was hurt Sunday against the Anaheim Ducks after taking an elbow to the head from Jean-Francois Jacques, won't play Friday against the Phoenix Coyotes. His ironman streak will end at a franchise-record 288 games.

Columbus is already missing James Wisniewski, Jeff Carter, Kristian Huselius, Mark Letestu and Radek Martinek due to injuries.

BRIEFLY

Sidney Crosby's teammates aren't expecting the Pittsburgh Penguins franchise player back in the lineup any time soon. Defenceman Brooks Orpik says he believes Crosby isn't "anywhere close to coming back" even though the star forward is expected to start skating again this weekend in Florida ... Colorado Avalanche forward Peter Mueller returned to action against the Nashville Predators after missing 41 games with concussion-related issues. Mueller was activated off IR Wednesday ...


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