Here are the 3 biggest takeaways from the Penguins' Thursday evening practice at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex…
1. Next step?
Penguins defenseman Justin Schultz (lower-body) was a full-participant in practice, from contact to rushes to power play). But neither he, nor Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan would commit to his returning Friday night against the Philadelphia Flyers at PPG Paints Arena.
"We thought he had a strong practice," Sullivan said. "We'll see how he responds. We'll make a decision on the lineup (Friday). It looked encouraging based on what we saw today."
Schultz, who has missed the last 16 games with the injury, hasn't played since Dec. 17 at Calgary. He was close to returning a week ago, Jan. 21, but was held out, and as a result had an additional eight days of recovery due to the team's bye week and All-Star break.
"There is no point in rushing it," Schultz said. "You want to make sure you're 100-percent healthy and ready to go when I get in."
Schultz spent the majority of his break in Pittsburgh going through the rehab process.
"(The break is) nice for everyone," he said. "It's good for everyone to get away from it, and get their mind away from hockey."
2. Big show
The Penguins recalled forwards Anthony Angello and Andrew Agozzino from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Though Agozzino has seen action in Pittsburgh this year, Angello could make his NHL debut Friday against the Flyers.
"I saw coach (Mike) Velucci's name pop up, and in the back of my head I had an inkling," Angello said of the callup. "When he told me I was getting called up I got really excited. I need to come compete, play hard and leave it all out there.
"I worked really hard to get here. I'm going to work really hard to stay here."
Angello, 23, has a team-leading 16 goals and 25 points (tied) for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this season. It's the 6-foot-5, 210-pound former fifth-round pick's (145th overall in 2014) second full season in the American Hockey League.
"I've just been shooting the puck and not overthinking it," Angello said of his scoring stretch. "I'm just playing hockey. As simple as that sounds, that's how I play, and it's been working out."
All season, whenever Pittsburgh called WBS for suggestions on which players to recall, Angello's name continued to come up. The Penguins are finally giving him his opportunity.
"He's been very good for them. He's been one of their best players for quite some time now," Sullivan said. "When we needed this recall, as we always do, we had discussions with Mike Velucci and our staff down there and scouting staff that watch Wilkes-Barre closely. It was pretty unanimous that he's played extremely well and deserving of it."
Due to the Penguins coming off of their bye week, the team held a late practice on Thursday, starting at 4 p.m. The club used the following workflow…
The defense rotated, but the opening pairs started as such…
PP1: Letang, Malkin, Crosby, Rust, Hornqvist
PP2: Schultz, Marino, McCann, Galchenyuk, Simon
Forward Dominik Kahun (concussion) did not participate in practice, but did skate prior with the team's skills coach, Ty Hennes. Defenseman Brian Dumoulin (ankle) and forward Nick Bjugstad (core muscle) did not skate, but are progressing according to Sullivan.