Penguins defenseman Paul Martin returned to team practice Tuesday afternoon at CONSOL Energy Center and could return to the lineup Wednesday night against the Boston Bruins.
Martin, who has missed the past eight games with an undisclosed injury, has been on the ice the past several days, either with his teammates at practice or working one-on-one with strength and conditioning coach Mike Kadar.
“I feel good, I feel great today,” Martin said. “The last three or four days I haven’t had any issues. My focus is on (Wednesday) and with the option of playing if everything checks out well today.”
The Penguins will wait until after the morning skate on Wednesday to make a decision, but head coach Mike Johnston said Martin is “really close.”
Martin, who handled full contact at today’s practice, practiced for the second time with the team this week (it would have been his third, but a scheduled doctor’s appointment prevented him from practicing Monday).
Martin skated with Kris Letang during practice and also worked the point with the second power-play unit.
“Paul Martin adds veteran experience, is a key penalty killer and power-play guy,” Johnston said. “You look at the minutes, he’s normally around 22 minutes a night. He’s a valuable member of our defense.”
Even if Martin does not rejoin the lineup Wednesday night, his return is nigh.
“After the last couple days and today I went out there with the guys and haven’t felt any issues or soreness,” Martin said. “The next thing is to take it into some action. Hopefully, tomorrow I’ll be in. I think I will.”
RETURNS Martin wasn’t the only skater back with the team at practice. Chris Kunitz and Marcel Goc both missed Monday’s practice, but were back with the team Tuesday. Kunitz had a follow-up doctor’s appointment and Goc had an illness.
“Sometime these (doctor’s appointments) get done around practice. I don’t like it,” Johnston said. “We try to work around so they can get to the ice session, but (Kunitz’s) couldn’t be.”
Defenseman Simon Despres left Monday’s practice early with a “nagging injury.” But he was back at full speed on Tuesday.
(PP)ERRON The Pens power play featured a new face with David Perron added to the mix on the first unit. The right-handed shot took a spot in the slot, the position typically occupied by currently injured Patric Hornqvist.
“We like the right-hand shot in the slot. With Perron that gives us a right-hand shot in the slot,” Johnston said.