PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins
defenseman Ben Lovejoy
could return for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against Philadelphia on Wednesday, two weeks after having arthroscopic right knee surgery.
Lovejoy was expected to be out for 3-4 weeks after getting injured March 25 against New Jersey. But he resumed skating last week and returned to practice on Monday.
With Matt Niskanen
(lower-body injury) unlikely to be ready for Game 1, the only other healthy defenseman available on the Penguins' roster is rookie Brian Strait
. He was a minus-2 in season-ending games against the Rangers and Flyers last week.
Niskanen was held out of practice Tuesday, although he skated beforehand. He missed the final two games of the regular season.
Lovejoy has been limited to 34 games because of injuries and the depth the Penguins possess on the blue line when Niskanen is healthy. He has one goal and four assists and is a plus-3.
Penguins coach Dan Bylsma
seemed to suggest following practice Tuesday that Lovejoy could be ready to go.
is a guy who three times this year has played after long absences and has played really well after he's stepped back in," Bylsma said. "He's played in the postseason and has that experience there. He's been a guy who's stepped in for us this year when we've had injuries. When and if Ben gets healthy, he's going to be a guy we're comfortable putting in situations."
Lovejoy had two assists while playing in all seven games of the Penguins' conference quarterfinal round series loss to Tampa Bay last season.