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Stanley Cup Final

Carl Hagelin ready if Penguins need him in Game 3 against Predators

Forward could see first action in Cup Final if Nick Bonino is unable to play

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Senior Writer

CRANBERRY, Pa. -- Pittsburgh Penguins left wing Carl Hagelin isn't hiding his anger over being scratched for the first two games in the Stanley Cup Final. He also isn't allowing that anger to boil into something that could impact the Penguins.

"First when you find out, it's disappointing, you're frustrated, you're [ticked] off," Hagelin said after practice Friday. "But it's the Stanley Cup Final, it's not about me, it's about the team, so whenever you get the chance, you've got to be ready."

Hagelin might get that chance in Game 3 at the Nashville Predators on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVA Sports).

 

[RELATED: Bonino could miss Game 3 for Penguins]

 

Center Nick Bonino didn't practice Friday and arrived in Nashville wearing a walking boot on his left leg and using crutches. Bonino, who was injured blocking a shot in the first period of Game 2 but returned for the second period and finished the game, was the only Pittsburgh player who didn't practice, and coach Mike Sullivan said he would be a game-time decision.

Hagelin skated on a line with Matt Cullen and Patric Hornqvist. Carter Rowney, who has been playing right wing, took Bonino's spot as the center between Conor Sheary and Scott Wilson.

"I'm always a positive guy," Hagelin said, "so if I get out there I'll play a good game."

Video: PIT@WSH, Gm5: Hagelin beats Holtby with a wrister

A big part of why sitting out hasn't been easy for Hagelin is because this is the first time he has done it in three trips to the Stanley Cup Final during the past four seasons.

Since 2012, Hagelin has played more Stanley Cup Playoff games than anyone (108). Prior to this season, he missed three playoff games in his NHL career, because of a suspension in 2012.

"I've never been in this situation before, so it's one of those things, it's a new experience for me and I'm trying to see the positives," Hagelin said. "Whenever you get in there you've got to be ready, so it gives me some time to work on my skating and conditioning and get back there, which is good. If I get in, I'll be ready to go."

Hagelin's skating and conditioning has been a concern for the Penguins because of a lower-body injury he sustained in a game against the Winnipeg Jets on March 10.

Hagelin was in a walking boot for weeks following that injury; he missed the last 16 games of the regular season and the first six games of the playoffs. He came back to play in Games 2-6 against the Washington Capitals in the second round, but the injury caused him to miss Game 7 and Game 1 against the Ottawa Senators in the Eastern Conference Final.

He returned to the lineup in Game 2 largely because Hornqvist was injured in Game 1 and couldn't play. Hagelin played the last six games of the conference final, but with Hornqvist available, Hagelin was a healthy scratch for the first two games against Nashville.

Video: PIT@CAR: Malkin buries slick feed from Hagelin

"[Hagelin] has been in a real difficult circumstance, I think, where he was trying to overcome an injury going into the playoffs that was an extended period of time," Sullivan said. "It was a long-term injury, and he's never really had an opportunity to recover from it. I think it's put him at a disadvantage. In playoffs at this point, where the window for opportunity is so short, sometimes coaches have to make these difficult decisions. I think [Hagelin] understands it."

Hagelin agreed, saying he had a good talk with Sullivan before the Cup Final began about why the coach was going to scratch him. He didn't like it, but said he understood it.

Hagelin said it's easy for he and Sullivan to communicate because they know each other so well. Their coach-player relationship began in 2011-12, when Hagelin was a rookie with the New York Rangers and Sullivan was an assistant to coach John Tortorella.

"I know where I stand with Sully," Hagelin said. "He was my first assistant coach in the League and obviously he was my head coach last year when we won the Cup, and I played a lot and was a big part of the team. I'm not worried about that. It's a special situation this year with a couple circumstances that played a role in this decision. I have full trust in him, and I think he trusts me when I get the chance."

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