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Penguins Report: Game Day vs. Carolina

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

There were a couple notable items from the Penguins' Monday morning skate. One is that captain Sidney Crosby will play against the Hurricanes (see 11:21 AM entry) and the other is that both Chris Kunitz and Alex Goligoski returned to practice (see 10:37 AM entry).

12:11 PM:
Here are head coach Dan Bylsma's comments from after the morning skate:

On what Crosby brings to the team:
With the speed and the pace and what other teams have to bring to the table, when he’s out there playing his game 5-on-5 and on the power play it’s a different level than your average player coming back to the lineup. We’ll gladly insert him in his spot.
On Goligoski, Kunitz:
They’re both progressing. Chris and Alex have been skating for a handful of days on their own. (Monday) was back with the team for the first day, both positive signs and both progressing with the help of (head athletic trainer) Chris Stewart and (team physical therapist) Mark Mortland. They’re on different timelines, but hopefully we’ll see Alex soon.
On Mark Letestu:
He had an abbreviated training camp, only one or two days on the ice. He opened eyes with those two days. He opened eyes with his first two games. He probably took it another step further with his last game and how he played, the plays he made, the faceoff circle, shooting the puck. He played a very good game for a call-up, finding out at (noon) that you have to play a game in Pittsburgh. He played a very good game. He continues to improve upon his status. The eyes are going to be really wide open if he continues to open them.
On Letestu’s status for Monday’s game:
The lineup is a game-time decision right now with a couple different scenarios. He’ll be out for warm-ups.
On the Carolina Hurricanes:
This is a game that scares me in the aspect that I think this is a team that, we played them earlier in the year and thought it was a great game, thought the came really hard, thought they worked really hard, challenged us with their forecheck, challenged us in the offensive zone. We left that game with a win, but we felt like that was a really good game. We kind of watched from a distance and wondered what is different about their team in not getting the wins. We’re expecting a team that can challenge us with their speed and forecheck. They’re going to come at us very quickly. They’re going to put pucks behind us. (Carolina’s 5-3 win over Vancouver Saturday) is an example of how, when they get that turnover, how quick they are to attack the net. A few of their goals were a result of that. We’re preparing for a team that we respect and think is fast and quick and will come at us. Not a team that has the record that they do. That’s what we’re preparing for. Hopefully our guys are ready for a really quick game and a really aggressive game. That’s what we expect.

11:57 PM:
Here are some shots of Carolina's morning skate:

Ron Francis (left) and Paul Maurice (right)

11:21 AM:
Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, who missed the club's previous game with a groin injury, will play Monday night against the Carolina Hurricanes.

"I'm in," Crosby said. "I've had a good couple days of rest and got it worked on. There's no more pain. That's all I really wanted to get rid of. I can deal with it right now."

"We weighed our options and we decided we’d let him play tonight," Bylsma joked. "He hopefully continues to progress and we’re preparing to have him in the lineup tonight. So that makes us a little better."

10:52 AM: contributor Tom Mast caught up with Kunitz on Saturday night and this is what the gritty forward had to say:

On injury:
It’s just trying to get ready and make sure you feel good enough to go out there. You don’t have any setbacks.
On timeline:
It’s always frustrating when you’re not out there. It is something when your sitting out that you want to make sure that you’re healthy when you come back, at a level where you can compete. When you sit out this long you have to make sure you’re 100 percent before you get back.
I’m feeling better and better. There’s a chance they’ll let me go out and do different things, start practicing with the team. And then we’ll know from there. But until I hit that point I don’t really have an idea.

10:46 AM:

Chris Kunitz (left) and Alex Goligoski (right) returned to practice for the first time following lower body injuries.

Sidney Crosby (left) is back at practice after missing the team's previous game with a groin injury.

10:37 AM:
The Penguins had a full house at their Monday morning skate as every player on the roster participated. Injured players Sidney Crosby (groin), Chris Kunitz (lower body) and Alex Goligoski (lower body) all took the ice.

Crosby's status is currently unknown for tonight's showdown with the Carolina Hurricanes and it is unlikely that either Kunitz or Goligoski will play, since it is their first time back on the ice following injuries.

But for a team that has seen nine regulars go down with injuries, including five defensemen, having every player back on the ice (even if it is just for practice) is great to see.
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