The Pittsburgh Penguins, who have been decimated by injuries this season, took another step towards complete recovery.
Defenseman Philippe Boucher, who recently returned to the ice after left foot surgery just six weeks ago, was removed from the injured reserve list Friday.
“He’s cleared as of yesterday by the doctors,” interim head coach Dan Bylsma said. “He’s done some pretty serious skating to this point. It’s about getting back into game shape. That usually can’t happen without a game but we’ll do our best off the ice.”
“I’ve been feeling good on the ice,” Boucher said. “I think I need a little more time in practice but things have been going well. I’ve got to do a little more work in practice. So far, so good. You never know. It’s a bone that bears all the weight when you skate so you never know what can happen but we feel pretty confident that it’s healing up.”
Boucher’s foot has healed faster than most expected and he is ahead of schedule for a return to action but the team is being cautious.
“We need to make sure it’s solid enough,” Boucher said. “We put the two screws in there and there’s a certain amount of time you have to wait until you can skate. We pushed that and started skating early. It responded really well. I’m looking forward to getting some more time in practice and going from there.”
Boucher’s return will give the Penguins seven healthy defensemen. It also presents a dilemma to Bylsma, though a welcomed dilemma. Will he put Boucher in the lineup to get some game action before the postseason? And if so, whom will he replace and how will the rotation work out?
“It certainly is a dilemma; Boucher is a good player,” Bylsma said. “He’s a right shot. He’s had a long career. We’ve been doing well. The six (defensemen) that have been in there have done a good job. This is the time of the year when you need good, healthy NHL defensemen and to have seven is a luxury. We’ll deal with that luxury and we’re glad to have it.”
While the team would like Boucher to work through a few more practices, he is ready to play at any moment should an emergency occur.
“He was possible for (Friday’s) game,” Bylsma said. “He went out for warm ups and if someone couldn’t go, he was going. He’s close.”
“I’m pretty close,” Boucher said. “Practices are not like training camp where you’re battling all the time. It’s hard to judge but we’re pushing it pretty good. We’ll see.”Archive