James Neal saw the doctor Thursday afternoon and has been diagnosed with a concussion, per #Pens coach Bylsma. Out of the lineup now.— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) March 14, 2014
Bylsma on Neal: You don't know if you're talking about 1-2 days or much longer. You hope the symptoms subside & it's shorter than longer— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) March 14, 2014
The Penguins have already suffered a league high 397 man-games lost to injury, several to key players like Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, Paul Martin, Tomas Vokoun, Rob Scuderi, Brooks Orpik and Beau Bennett missing significant time with serious injuries.
Unfortunately for Neal, this is his second concussion in under a year, he missed 3 weeks last April after absorbing an elbow to the head from then-Rangers defenseman Michael Del Zotto. As said in the updates above, the Penguins are unaware when Neal will be able to return, and hopefully his symptoms subside quickly.
Tomorrow starts a heavy stretch in the schedule for the Penguins, who will play 10 games over the next 16 days to finish out the month of March.
Rookie Brian Gibbons took Neal's place on the Jussi Jokinen and Evgeni Malkin line today in practice, and we'll see if the Pens plan to give him a shot there. Gibbons has had some success generating points while playing with Jokinen (highlighted by Gibbons two primary assists to Jokinen in a 5-2 win on January 3rd), but Gibbons hasn't spent much time at all playing with Malkin.