With slick, puck-moving defensemen Kris Letang and Paul Martin out of the lineup, it would seem logical that defenseman Simon Despres would receive additional responsibility.

Just the opposite is taking place.

Despres was a healthy scratch again when the Penguins visited the Hurricanes on Tuesday. Rookie defenseman Robert Bortuzzo, who was a healthy scratch during each game of the Penguins' recent 15-game winning streak, played instead.

Bortuzzo skated with Deryk Engelland, and while both have enjoyed solid seasons, the lack of puck-moving defensemen in the lineup is glaring at times without Letang and Martin. Despres could help in that department, but he remains on the bench.

Despres played in consecutive losses to Buffalo and the New York Rangers last week and hasn't cracked the lineup since.

Coach Dan Bylsma was asked Tuesday if the decision to sit Despres was a difficult one. Bylsma shook his head for about five seconds before saying “no” three times.

Bylsma suggested that Bortuzzo was a clear choice to play against the Hurricanes.

“I don't know where you want me to go with that,” Bylsma said. “Robert Bortuzzo has played real well. Against a bigger-body team around the net, Robert will be in there.”

Despres stayed on the ice for additional work following the morning skate, which is routine for healthy scratches.

He said that finding consistency in his game remains an issue.

“I have a lot of things to work on,” he said. “I can still be better. I have to learn to do the simple things better.”