Nothing official came Wednesday from the Penguins but there were plenty of signs that an injured player or two will return this weekend. The most likely is defenseman Kris Letang a Norris Trophy finalist last season who has not played this season because of an apparent knee injury. He was paired with Rob Scuderi — his presumed defense partner for games — and manned a point position on the top power-play unit in practice at Southpointe. The next game is Friday at home against the New York Islanders. “In these two days of practice it’s an opportunity to move him to a different area with a different pair and put him in some power-play [drills] and some different situations like we saw in practice” coach Dan Bylsma said. “That’s good for his progression.” Bylsma also said that the practice was in part structured — with power-play drills at different times as in a game rather than in one longer set — to benefit Letang. But he did not say that Letang will play Friday. Neither did Letang. “I felt pretty good” he said. “That was the main concern — try to feel 100 percent and try to make sure I don’t take any chances coming back.” When Letang returns he won’t see his ice time usually well above 20 minutes a game reduced a great deal. “There is talk when you return a player to the lineup of protecting their minutes” Bylsma said. “Kris in the past is not a guy you go in and say ‘You’re going to play 16 minutes or 18 minutes’ and protect his minutes. “He has not played and I don’t think we can give him a full complement of minutes when he gets there but he can skate so well it’s really not much of a big issue for him.” Wingers James Neal and Beau Bennett who have unspecified injuries did not practice. Winger Matt D’Agostini also out because of an unspecified injury is practicing and eligible to come off of long-term injured reserve Saturday when the Penguins play at Toronto. After practice the Penguins re-assigned wingers Harry Zolnierczyk and Chris Conner to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League. Zolnierczyk played in three games Conner two after their call-ups. That leaves the Penguins with only 11 healthy available forwards but defenseman Deryk Engelland has played some as a fourth-line winger.
Kris Letang takes full practice, likely to return Friday night
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | Oct 24