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Penguins Report: 3/1/12

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Letang has symptoms, more injury updates from coach Bylsma (1:35 PM).
  • Practice underway with a different jersey flavor (12:05 PM).
  • Pens practice video at DU (2:00 PM).
  • Q&A with 2010 first-round pick and DU sophomore Beau Bennett (2:28 PM).
  • Kennedy talks about his recovery (2:20 PM).
  • Coach Bylsma on injuries, the power play & more (2:18 PM).
  • Practice pics (12:40 PM).
  • DU ice (11:15 AM).
  • Around the rink: DU style (4:00 PM).
  • Prospect Wilson overcomes adversity (10:30 AM).
  • Grove & Bourque rewind the radio (10:10 AM).
  • Beer League champs (10:20 AM).
  • “Let’s make this last forever…” (10:00 AM).

We have one final treat before we wrapup for the day. Before the Pens practice I walked around the University of Denver athletics complex and took some pictures. Below is the end result.

Denver's national championship banners hang from the rafters

Former Pens GM Craig Patrick was a member of the 1968 and '69 National title teams in Denver

Patrick even autographed the wall

Important year in American history, Adolf Coors comes to America

Photo of the '69 title team (left); Patrick was the captain of that squad (right)

Legendary hockey coach Murray Armstrong

Patrick is also a member of the school's Hall of Fame

2:28 PM:
Penguins prospect Beau Bennett, the team's first-round pick (20th overall) in the 2010 NHL Draft, is a sophomore forward at DU. And since the Pens practiced in his team's barn this afternoon, Bennett came to watch and was kind enough to catch up with the Pittsburgh media.

Unfortunately, the 20-year-old forward underwent surgery on his right wrist on Dec. 8 and has been out ever since. He addressed his injury and the repercussions in his Q&A...

On his wrist injury:
The injury initially happened in practice in October. I had surgery Dec. 8. It’s been a long road so far. I’ve never really had an injury that’s kept me out of hockey this long, so it’s been tough.

Complete Q&A posted here.

Note: ROOT SPORTS Pittsburgh will be airing a feature on Bennett and fellow Pioneer Ty Loney, son of former Penguin Troy Loney, during Saturday's broadcast of the Pens-Avalanche game

--Michelle Crechiolo

Tyler Kennedy practiced with the team for the first time on Wednesday since suffering a high-ankle sprain on Feb. 5 vs. NJ that's caused him to miss the last 10 games. 'TK' spoke with the media after today's skate...

On how he’s feeling:
I feel pretty good. Still a little bit weak, but I feel like I’m getting better every day, so I feel good.

On if he has a timetable for his return:
No, not yet. I think I’ll get a couple more good skates in and we’ll go from there.

On learning from teammates who have had the same injury:
It’s one of those things you definitely don’t want to rush. You definitely don’t want to come back not 100 percent. You want to come back and make sure you’re 100 percent. So I’m trying to make sure I’m ready to rock when I come back.

--Michelle Crechiolo

Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma…

On his concern as a coach when he sees a player like Letang go down:
I’m certainly concerned for every player. (Especially with) the significance of the hit, Kris being on the ice. That was the first thing that I thought of in that situation for Kris. Whether you’ve had one or a couple before, you’re concerned for the player and their health. He took a hard hit.

On the power play without Letang:
He’s been really good, but we also played a significant amount of games without Kris back there. Matt Niskanen filled in (Letang’s) spot on the ice and in a similar role. We had success with Matt there, so Matt will slide into that spot. The bigger question is whether Steve Sullivan can play next game or not and what happens there. (He and Letang are) both point guys. If Steve and Kris aren’t playing, we’re going to have to put Matt there with Paul Martin, as you saw in (Wednesday’s) game. They’ll have to play there and possibly Dustin Jeffrey. He’s played the point on the power play before and might be used in that similar spot as Sullivan.

On who would play on the second power-play unit:
Zbynek (Michalek) would be a guy who played there last year. He would be in a shooter’s position on the power play.

On if they would consider recalling Despres if Letang is out long-term:
We’d be down to six here if Kris is out for an extended period of time – or longer than just this weekend – so I think with the number of games that we have left on the schedule, we certainly would consider having one of the players down (in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton) come up. Simon has been on the power play. He’s been 5-on-5 against other team’s good guys. So he certainly would be a candidate and a consideration.

On the college vs. junior players in practice:
We were in DU’s barn, so we had to make a couple trades today to get some guys a little bit smarter and put them on the college side. But we tried to even out teams. Just had a little fun with some games, but still tried to incorporate some of the skills we want to have in our team with some of the games on the ice. We had a winner and a loser and it was no surprise to me that the college guys won.

On Dupuis and Park filling in well on the college side:
We gave them honorary doctorates before the practice started so they could don the jerseys without too much problems.

--Michelle Crechiolo

It was junior guys vs. college guys (plus Dupuis & Park) at practice. Here's a hilarious quote from Dan Bylsma on former junior players Dupuis and Park repping college hockey.

Here is video of today's practice. Check out the college guys in their Denver gear.

Full story here.

Head coach Dan Bylsma said after practice that defenseman Kris Letang has symptoms and will be reevaluated back in Pittsburgh. Letang left midway through the first period of Wednesday's game after getting clipped with a high, hard hit from Eric Nystrom and did not return.

"Kris Letang did have some symptoms today and is going to get reevaluated back in Pittsburgh when we get back after this road trip," Bylsma said.

He also said Steve Sullivan (who did not play in the third period of Wednesday's game with a lower-body injury) is day-to-day. The rest of the Pens that did not practice (Malkin, Fleury, Johnson, Orpik and Engelland) are all having maintenance days.

Sam is running around like crazy at Magness Arena to bring you guys some awesome pics and video of the Pens paying homage to DU with their practice garb. The college guys donned the Pioneers jerseys while the former junior players wore the normal black.

So while he is busy taking care of that, he asked me to post some of the fantastic photos he's gotten.

Pens' 2010 first-round pick Beau Bennett is in the house!!! (left); coach Bylsma - a Bowling Green alum - dons a Pioneers cap (right)

Northeastern University product Joe Vitale happily dons a Denver jersey (left); as does Dartmouth grad Ben Lovejoy (right)

Dupuis and Park played major juniors, but today they're repping college hockey

The players wearing the Pioneers jerseys seem to be totally in sync while the Pens wearing black are a bit scattered

Former Minnesota-Duluth Bulldog Niskanen joins Lovejoy in wearing the red and gold. I really do love the tribute by the guys (left); I wonder if Bennett is leading the Pens in a rendition of the Denver fight song? D - Rah! E - Rah! N - Rah! VER - Boom! He does play the piano...(right)

--Michelle Crechiolo

The Pens are on the ice for practice. Letang, Fleury, Johnson, Malkin, Sullivan, Engelland and Orpik are getting a day off.

In a tribute to DU for allowing the team to use their rink, a few players are wearing Pioneers jerseys.

The Pens will be practicing today at University of Denver, home of the Pioneers and 2010 Pens first-round pick Beau Bennett.

Penguins' 2011 seventh-round pick Scott Wilson has overcome a lot in a short amount of time after the elation of being selected 209th overall by Pittsburgh. The 19-year-old came down with mononucleosis and lost 20 pounds while he was sick.

And dropping that kind of weight was tough for Wilson, especially as his biggest goal before he got sick was to gain muscle.

“I was probably around 175 before I got sick and I wanted to be maybe 180 going into college,” he said. “I ended up losing about 20 pounds over that month and a half. And once the season starts, it’s almost impossible to put weight on again. I’m almost back to 175 now, so I haven’t even gotten back to where I started from.”

But that hasn’t deterred Wilson in any way, as the Oakville, Ontario native is putting together a magnificent rookie campaign at UMass Lowell, which includes being named the Hockey East Rookie of the Week on five occasions.

The forward ranks first among NCAA freshmen in points per game (1.07) and all Hockey East freshmen in points (32). His 15 goals are tied for the team lead while his 32 points rank second.

Full story here.

(UMass Lowell Athletics)

The first ever Adult Hockey Classic tournament finale took place at CONSOL Energy Center this past weekend. Beth Vietmeier has more below.

Thursday means it's time to rewind the radio. In this week's edition, Bob Grove and Phil Bourque discuss secondary scoring and role players.

Good morning from Denver! The Pens will be in the Rocky Mountain city for the next few days with a 9 p.m. Eastern Time contest Saturday night against the Colorado Avalanche. Today the team will hit the ice for a noon-ish practice (2 p.m.-ish Eastern time).

Ah Denver, the sunshine state (award yourself two points if you get the movie reference).


Today we'll open the day with some Blink-182. This band definitely takes me back to high school. Good times. Good times. Here is "First Date." Enjoy.

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