Penguins defenseman Sergei Gonchar was the first player on the ice for Pittsburgh’s Tuesday afternoon practice. In fact, he beat the rest of the team by 20 minutes.
The veteran defenseman went through another rigorous day in an attempt to get his conditioning back to game level. Though he will not play Wednesday night in the Penguins battle with San Jose at Mellon Arena at 7:30 p.m., he is on the precipice of returning.
“He’s getting closer,” head coach Michel Therrien said. “I know Gonchar is going to meet his doctor (Wednesday) and we’ll go from there. He looks good in practice. He’s getting closer and closer.”
“From my standpoint I feel very well,” Gonchar said. “Hopefully, the doctors are going to feel the same way.”
Gonchar, who has not played this season following shoulder surgery in early October, has been fully participating in practice since he was cleared for contact Feb. 2. He’s been testing his shoulder’s strength and trying to recapture his timing with teammates.
“We’re working hard at getting back,” he said. “Obviously, when you miss five months it’s not going to come back in one day.”>
Forward Ruslan Fedotenko has yet to be cleared for contact. He was wearing the red “no contact” jersey at practice and is still trying to build the strength in his healing broken hand.
“He doesn’t have the strength in his hand right now,” Therrien said. “He’s healing really well. That’s another guy that’s close.”
The only Penguins player to miss practice was defenseman Philippe Boucher. He is listed as day-to-day with an undisclosed injury. >
Mike Zigomanis, who had surgery to repair the rotator cuff in his right shoulder on Jan. 14, is ahead of schedule in his healing process.
“I’m ahead of schedule which is good,” Zigomanis said. “I’m doing things two, three weeks ahead of schedule. I don’t know if that means a quicker than expected time of arrival back on the ice but it’s better to be ahead than behind.”
Zigomanis was expected to miss four to six months with the injury, which puts him dangerously close to missing the remainder of the season. However, if the Penguins put together an extended playoff run, Zigomanis hopes to return.
“That’s the plan,” he said. “I keep thinking positive about the situation. I’m taking supplements, and making sure I’m eating well, exercising on the bike every day. Making sure I’m physically ready and doing everything to be in shape. Hopefully, a miracle happens.”
Zigomanis is being cautious in his rehab. He wants to return but also doesn’t want any setbacks to occur.
“Contact is the big thing, getting contact with the shoulder,” he said. “To me that’s the biggest issue coming back. There were a lot of repairs in there. The first hit, you don’t want to pop it.”
If Zigomanis doesn’t return this season, then he would love to start next season in Pittsburgh. He is a free agent but said he would prefer to remain with the Penguins organization.
“I’d love to come back,” Zigomanis said. “I like this group of guys on the ice and off the ice. I made a lot of good friends on the team. Pittsburgh is a great city and I love living here. I’m very fortunate that Ray Shero and the Penguins organization brought me in this year. I’m very appreciative of that. Coming back here is on top of my mind.”Archive