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Penguins Report: Team Getting Healthier After All-Star Break

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
The Penguins have been battling through injuries all season. To date, they’ve lost 197 man-games to injuries and are on pace to hit the 337 mark - which would dwarf last season’s total of 280.

On a positive note, it looks like Pittsburgh is starting to field a healthy squad on the ice. Captain Sidney Crosby participated in the Penguins' mid-day practice at Mellon Arena on Monday after staying off skates for the previous five days to allow his knee injury to heal.

"Five days is pretty long," said Crosby, who did not take part in this past weekend’s All-Star Game or SuperSkills Challenge in Montreal to rest his knee. "I was a little rusty. I tried to go as hard as I could. If you can't go hard in practice it's pretty tough to go hard in the game."

“That was a smart decision for him not to participate in the challenge and the game,” head coach Michel Therrien said. “That was good for him to be there. You need those few days to rest that knee. He looked pretty sharp today for the first day.”

Crosby's status for the Penguins' Wednesday matchup with the New York Rangers at Mellon Arena at 7:30 p.m. is still unknown.

"I'll have to see (Tuesday)," Crosby said. "I still feel it a bit. We'll see if it continues to get better or if it goes backwards."

Therrien also noted that forwards Maxime Talbot and Pascal Dupuis will return to the lineup. Both players had been on the injured reserve list with undisclosed injuries. The All-Star break provided the tandem an extra five days to recover and recuperate.


“I think the break was a good thing for us because we have a lot of injuries,” Therrien said. “Talbot is going to be ready to play. Dupuis is going to be ready to play. At least we could start to have a healthy lineup.”

Talbot has missed the previous three games while Dupuis has been absent from the team’s last seven contests.

“I’m off the reserved list and I’m ready to go,” Talbot said. “For guys on the injury reserve list you get an extra five days (from the All-Star break) that you needed. It feels good to come back.”
Defensemen Brooks Orpik (undisclosed) and Rob Scuderi (illness) were the only players to miss the Penguins' practice. Orpik, who suffered his injury Jan. 16 against Anaheim, will miss his third straight game but is on the cusp of getting back in the lineup.

“We don’t think Orpik is going to be there Wednesday but he’s close so he’s more day-to-day,” Therrien said.

> Defenseman Sergei Gonchar, who has missed all season with a shoulder injury, started taking slap shots over the weekend. Gonchar has been skating, practicing and doing light shooting with the team but only started to take slap shots over the last three days because of the sensitivity of his shoulder.

“My doctors told me that I have to work into it,” he said. “I’m shooting more in practice. It’s a little sore after that but that’s the way it should be. That’s normal. I’m working on it. I’m working hard on the ice, off the ice, slap shots, everything. We’re trying to make sure my shoulder is ready for that.”

Ruslan Fedotenko skated for the first time Monday. He’s been on injured reserve after breaking his hand in a fight with former Penguin Colby Armstrong Jan. 6. Fedotenko hit the ice without a stick before the Penguins’ practice.

“It felt good for 15 or 20 minutes and start skating,” he said. “It’s kind of awkward without the stick but that’s the beginning. I’m excited to get back there and work on the skating part and rehab my hand.”

The doctors cleared Fedotenko to start skating and rehabbing Monday.

“(Monday) was the first day; I got cleared by the doctor to start rehabbing so that’s good,” Fedotenko said. “The next couple days we’ll see how I feel.”


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