The Penguins held an optional practice on Friday at CONSOL Energy Center. Eight players took part: Marcel Goc; Craig Adams; Zach Sill; Beau Bennett; Jayson Megna; Christian Ehrhoff; Robert Bortuzzo; and Thomas Greiss.
Bortuzzo, who hasn’t played a game since the Penguins’ first preseason contest due to a lower-body injury, has been cleared to return to the lineup for a while, but hasn’t had an opportunity as Pittsburgh continues to win games.
“I’m just waiting for an opportunity now,” Bortuzzo said. “We have a lot of talented defensemen here. I’m just working hard everyday. I’m ready to go at any point here. I have been for a while now.”
Bortuzzo, 25, will likely be called upon starting next week when fellow blueliner Olli Maatta undergoes surgery to remove a tumor on his neck. Maatta is expected to miss approximately four weeks.
“I’m working hard in practice and watching video,” Bortuzzo said. “The next step is getting into games and contributing.”
Bortuzzo suffered the injury in Pittsburgh’s first preseason game on Sept. 22 against Detroit. While he’s been practicing for the past few weeks it will take him time to get his timing back.
“It’s been a long summer. I played the one preseason game, but the regular season is a different bag,” Bortuzzo said. “The pace of play is elevated. It’s hard to simulate that stuff in practice.”
The Penguins recalled forward Jayson Megna from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League Thursday morning. He joined the small group at practice today and was the last person off the ice.
“It feels good to be back,” Megna said. “It was a good first month in Wilkes-Barre. The team was starting to play well. I was just fortunate enough to get the call.”
Megna’s biggest strength is his speed, and that is a major asset in playing head coach Mike Johnston’s aggressive, puck-possession system.
“(The system) plays to my game, a speed game and fast and offensive,” Megna said.
Megna, 24, had three points (2G-1A) in nine games with WBS. Last season Megna played 36 games in the NHL with the Penguins, posting nine points (5G-4A).
“Now that I’ve played in the NHL all I want to do is stay in the NHL,” Megna said. “I don’t know if that will happen this trip up or another trip up. Who knows? I’m just going to make the most of this one and do the best I can and stick for as long as I can. I want to prove that I can play in the NHL everyday.”