Here are the 3 biggest takeaways from the Penguins' Thanksgiving Day practice at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex…
1. Injury updates
Evgeni Malkin, who missed Wednesday's 5-2 loss to Vancouver with an upper-body injury, was the only player missing from the skate. Head coach Mike Sullivan said his status remains the same.
"He's not going to travel with us to Boston," Sullivan said. "We'll evaluate him when we come back. One of the reasons he's not going to travel with us is because it's an afternoon game and he's got an opportunity to skate here."
While Malkin is ruled out for Thursday's game against the Bruins, Sullivan said he is a possibility to play Saturday against the Lightning.
Carter Rowney, who has missed the last 14 games with an upper-body injury, took warmups last night but did not play. The center, who returned to team practice on Nov. 18 and has been taken off injured reserve, said that he continues to feel better and better, though he admitted it's been tough to stay patient.
"It feels like I've been out for months on months right now," he said. "I'm at the end here hopefully, and as long as there's no setbacks or anything like that, I'll hopefully be back soon."
Rowney did line rushes at practice. Here's the team's workflow…
Archibald rotated in with the defense.
2. Turkey time
After practice the Pens got on a flight to Boston, where the players will be treated to a Thanksgiving meal at the team hotel.
New England natives like Conor Sheary, who's from Massachusetts, and Brian Dumoulin, who's from Maine, will be dining with their teammates despite being close to home. "I'm going to miss my grandmother's cooking this time around," Sheary said with a smile. "I think by the time we get in it will be a little bit late and with the day game tomorrow, I want to make sure I get my rest."
The Michigan natives on the team, like Bryan Rust, Ian Cole and Matt Hunwick, were all watching the Detroit Lions play in their annual Thanksgiving Day game in the locker room before they left - which is a tradition for those guys.
"We'd watch the Lions every year, they would basically lose every year, so the Lions losing was also a great Thanksgiving day tradition," joked Cole.
All of the American-born players grew up with different traditions, but one constant was the food. Here's a few of them talking about their favorite parts of Thanksgiving dinner…
Cole: "I don't know if I have a favorite part. I'm a big sweet potato casserole guy. Love sweet potatoes, love the sweet potato casserole. Love the brussel sprouts, love the stuffing. The turkey is great too, if you get the nice dark meat."
Hunwick: "My father in-law makes some really good stuffing. Sausage, there's so much stuff in there that's so good, mushrooms. It's really good I love it, they put some vegetables in there. I'll be missing it this year."
Ruhwedel: "Turkey and gravy. You gotta have the good gravy on it. Stuffing too, kind of on the biggest plate possible."
Rust: "Recently stuffing. I was never a stuffing fan until recently, until the last couple years I was never a fan. My taste buds evolved."
3. Sullivan's message
It's no secret that the Pens are dealing with some adversity right now. The team is coming off its second straight loss, where they didn't score an even-strength goal in either game, and they've struggled in a number of areas - particularly coming out with a consistent effort night in and night out.
The players aren't happy right now, and neither are the coaches, but the message from the staff today was that they need to have a certain level of resilience and resolve.
"It's never easy when you don't win," Sullivan said. "Our expectation when we go into every game is that we're going to win. That's the standard that's been set here, so when you don't have success, that's never an easy experience. I've never been one to take losing very easily, and I don't think our players are either. We've got a very competitive group and I think they have an expectation to win as well. I think the important thing is that we react and respond the right way.
"Tomorrow's a new day, today is a new day. So we went out on the ice today, we had a spirited practice. I thought we got better on the ice today, that was important. And then we've got to be ready to play tomorrow."