Thoughts, musings and observations from the Pens' morning skate prior to Game 2 against the NY Islanders…
* The Pens held a highly optional skate Friday morning at NYCB Live. Those that opted out were Jake Guentzel, Sidney Crosby, Bryan Rust, Patric Hornqvist, Phil Kessel, Brian Dumoulin, Kris Letang, Justin Schultz and Matt Murray.
As always in the playoffs, the lineup with be a game-time decision. The Pens didn't do line rushes at yesterday's practice. If they use the same look as Game 1 then here is the projected lineup:
Aston-Reese - Cullen - Wilson
* Defenseman Erik Gudbranson took part in the optional morning skate. He also practiced yesterday and appears to be ready to go for tonight's action.
Gudbranson left Game 1 briefly during the third period after colliding feet-first into the end boards with his ankle taking the brunt of the weight. Gudbranson remained on the ice for several minutes with the athletic trainer and went straight to the locker room.
Minutes later though he re-emerged from the tunnel and was able to return to the game. He is very thankful for that outcome.
"When it first happened I thought I was going to turn around and my ankle was going to be facing a way it shouldn't be," he said. "I definitely got lucky."
Gudbranson was headed toward a loose puck behind the net when New York's Anders Lee took out his skates causing him to crash into the wall. Gudbranson chalked it up to an unfortunate situation.
"It was an unlucky play," he said. "I was trying to box (Lee) out and get to the puck first. I was actually looking left to see what was coming that way when something took my legs out and I ended up into the wall like that.
"It was jut a freaky play."
* Forward Zach Aston-Reese, who missed the final 13 games of the regular season with a lower-body injury, returned to the lineup for Game 1 on Wednesday. Aston-Reese said there were no issues with his injury in the game.
"I feel really good," he said.
It's been a pseudo homecoming for Aston-Reese, who grew up in Staten Island. Though he was raised a Pens fan, he still played a lot of youth hockey at NYCB Live. During his mite days, he even skated during an intermission of an Islanders' game.
Aston-Reese skated as an NHLer in Game 1 against the Islanders.
"It's pretty cool to play back at home," he said. "I'll have my parents here tonight. That'll be nice."
* Chad Ruhwedel (upper-body injury, 20 games missed) took part in his first team practice. Though he wore a full-contact jersey, there is typically little contact at morning skates. Regardless, it was a good sign that his health is progressing.
* Islanders winger Anthony Beauvillier will be a game-time decision tonight, per Islanders reporter Sasha Kandrach. Beauvillier missed yesterday's practice, but did take part in today's morning skate for the club.