Penguins center Marcel Goc returned to team practice for the first time since suffering a lower-body bruise last Friday against the Carolina Hurricanes.
“I felt I had a good day with the team and we’ll see what the doctor says,” Goc said following practice.
Head coach Mike Johnston said that Goc “looked good in practice” and could possibly play Thursday night against the Vancouver Canucks.
Goc blocked a shot with his foot against the Hurricanes and was in noticeable pain. He broke his stick on the bench in frustration and needed assistance to get to the locker room.
Luckily, the medical testing showed that the injury was only a bruise and not a break as originally feared.
“It could have been worse. I’m happy it wasn’t,” Goc said.
Though Goc hasn’t been officially cleared to return to game action, joining practice is a step in the right direction.
The Penguins could use his help considering that Chris Kunitz (fractured foot) and Scott Wilson (leg, two-plus weeks) were both injured in Tuesday night’s 1-0 win against the New Jersey Devils.
Pittsburgh is also missing Pascal Dupuis (blood clot), Beau Bennett (lower body) and Kris Letang (groin).
Despite the injuries, the Penguins are still atop the Metro Division and are only behind the Tampa Bay Lightning in the NHL’s overall standings, though Tampa has played two more games.
“You can’t dwell on the fact that guys are out,” captain Sidney Crosby said. “You need to make sure that you rally and find a way to win games. Some guys may have to accept more of a role or elevate their game. We’re all in it together. So we’ve got to find a way to make sure we keep playing well.”
BORTUZZO TO HAVE HEARING WITH NHL
Robert Bortuzzo believed that Jaromir Jagr still had the puck when the defenseman landed a hard hit to the Devils winger Tuesday night. Jagr needed medical attention following the blow, left the game and did not return.
“I thought the puck was there,” Bortuzzo said. “I’m a physical player, a bigger guy. It was unfortunate that he had to leave the game. That’s about it. I’m just playing hard.
“I wasn’t targeting anything. I’ve watched it a few times. I believe I made contact with the chest. It was a full-body check.”
Bortuzzo will have a hearing this afternoon via telephone with the NHL Department of Players Safety regarding the hit.
“I’m not sure what kind of questions they’ll have,” Bortuzzo said. “I’m sure they’ll want me to take them through the play. It’s in their hands right now.”
After the play New Jersey’s Tuomo Ruutu challenged Bortuzzo to fight, but Bortuzzo declined.
“He asked me to fight, I didn’t think it was the (right) time for myself or the team,” Bortuzzo said. “We were doing some good things. That was it.”
UPDATE (5:39 P.M.): Bortuzzo has been suspended for two games without pay, the National Hockey League's Department of Player Safety announced today. The NHL's full release and full explanation of the decision, complete with video, can be found here.
The Pens used the following lines at today’s practice…
The seven defensemen rotated through their pairings.