After the Penguins Saturday afternoon practice at CONSOL Energy Center, injured players Paul Martin
(broken tibia) and Jayson Megna
(lower-body) took the ice.
It was the first skate for Martin since breaking his tibia Nov. 25 at Boston. Megna has been skating on his own.
“Martin has seen the doctor and passed the necessary bone scan and is now back skating today for his first day on the ice,” head coach Dan Bylsma said.
Injured center Evgeni Malkin (lower-body) and defenseman Kris Letang (elbow) took part in the team’s full practice. Both will be evaluated Sunday morning and are possible to return that afternoon against the Winnipeg Jets.
“I told (coach Bylsma) I felt good and I told him yesterday, too, so it’s coach’s decision,” Letang said. “Every time you practice you get more confident out there and more comfortable.”
Malkin did not skate in a line combination, but he did split some power-play duties.
“We will see and evaluate where (Malkin and Letang) are at for tomorrow’s game,” Bylsma said.
Forward Chuck Kobasew missed practice with a lower-body injury. However, he was a healthy scratch Friday night against the NY Rangers.
Forward Chris Conner had surgery on his broken hand. His timetable is still 6-8 weeks.
The Penguins used the following workflow…
PP1: Letang, (Jokinen/Malkin), Crosby, Kunitz and Neal.
PP2: Niskanen, Maatta, (Malkin/Jokinen), Sutter and Vitale.
Defenseman Rob Scuderi is expected to suit up for the Penguins against the Winnipeg Jets. When he does, it will be the 600th time he has done so in the NHL.
“I’ve been grateful to be in this league and have success,” he said. “It’s great and 600 games, I guess I would have never thought I would make it that long. When you’re 15, 16, you have no idea what’s going to happen, but I’m very grateful, and it’s been a lot of good people to help me along the way.”
The game against Winnipeg will also be his fourth back in the lineup after recovering from a broken ankle that sidelined him for 29 games. As expected, it will take some time for Scuderi to regain his normal shutdown form.
“I feel better every game,” Scuderi said. “Last night (vs. the Rangers) was definitely the best I’ve felt, but there’s still some little timing mistakes and things with the puck that I still have to iron out in myself. It’s coming along, I don’t think it should be much too longer until I’m where I want to be.”
Deryk Engelland has spent time this season playing as a defenseman and fourth-line winger. But in Friday night’s 5-2 win against the NY Rangers Engelland played, well, both.
Engelland was the team’s fourth line winger. And whenever the Penguins’ penalty killing unit was needed, Engelland was over the boards and playing back on defense. Moving back to D is an easy transition for him.
“It’s not too bad going back to D because that’s where you’re comfortable playing,” Engelland said. “Anytime you get thrown out there on forward it’s going to be uncomfortable because you’re not used to playing it.
“It’s good getting out there. Last little while our PK has been doing a great job, killing a lot of penalties so it’s nice to get out there and play that.”
The Penguins will host the Winnipeg Jets Sunday at 1 p.m. at CONSOL Energy Center. It will be the first time the two teams have played this season, and first with the Jets in the Western Conference.
Still, the Penguins are familiar with Winnipeg from their days in the East.
“They’ve got a lot of guys who can skate up front and their D like to join the rush,” captain Sidney Crosby said. “It’s pretty fast-paced from what I remember so we want to make sure it’s not a track meet by any means, but we want to make sure we’re holding the puck in their end and creating some chances from the offensive zone.”
The Penguins have won 12 straight games against the Jets in Pittsburgh, the team’s longest active streak against any team. Overall they are 5-1 in their past six contests against Winnipeg.
“I think that we’ve been able to get leads early on which has helped,” Crosby said. “We had a couple tight ones in Winnipeg that were a grind. We had to find a way late in the game and I think that here at home we’ve done a good job just getting leads and building off it.”
The Jets played an afternoon contest against the Boston Bruins, a 4-1 loss in Mass. But don't expect Bylsma to inform that to his players.
"Going into the game against Winnipeg I try not to enlighten our team to the fact that Winnipeg is playing today at 1," he said. "You don’t ever want them to think you have a team that’s tired. You have to make them that way and force them to be a tired team because they played the night before. I try not to set us up for that."