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Pens Report: 02.02.17

by Sam Kasan @PensInsideScoop / Pittsburgh Penguins

The Pens are searching for a winger replacement for Conor Sheary, who will be out 4-6 weeks with an upper-body injury, to play alongside Sidney Crosby. 

The Pens may swap the 24-year-old with a 40-year-old.

Matt Cullen, who appears on the verge of returning to the lineup after missing 6 games with a broken foot, switched from his typical center position and played wing with Crosby and Patric Hornqvist at Thursday afternoon's practice.

"We'll see what happens," Cullen said. "When you're over there you have a little more space to work with when you're working with Sid. If that's the case, for me it's about getting in on pucks, trying to help out offensively and give the guys those pucks."

Cullen has made an occasional appearance on Crosby's line in the past, typically when the team has a defensive zone faceoff late in the game and the team uses both centermen because of their strengths in the faceoff circle.

But Cullen is ready for an extended shift playing alongside the Pens' captain.

"I haven't played a lot there this year, but it's not a major adjustment," Cullen said. "I feel comfortable over there. I've played a lot of wing over the last few years and throughout the course of the season I play on Sid's wing a lot as games are closing out. It's not something I'm uncomfortable with."

Head coach Mike Sullivan wasn't showing his cards in regards to the lineup, but noted the things that Cullen could add to the team's top line.

"If we play him there," Sullivan prefaced, "he's a guy that has hockey sense, he's very sound defensively, he can take faceoffs, he can take some of the load off Sid down low in our end zone. He's got real good hockey sense and puck skills in the offensive side of the game."

Cullen still has incredible speed for a guy his age and is excited about the chance to play with Crosby.

"A guy like that elevates your game. It's fun to play with guys like that," Cullen said. "It's more about playing your own game, trying to compliment Sid and Hornqvist as much as possible. They play a possession-style game and look to make plays, which is fun to play."

*The Pens practiced at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry on Thursday afternoon. Evgeni Malkin (lower-body) and Sheary (upper-body) were the only absent players.

The Pens used the following workflow…

Cullen-Crosby-Hornqvist

Guentzel-Bonino-Kessel

Hagelin-Rowney-Rust

Kunitz-Fehr-Wilson

Dumoulin-Letang

Maatta-Daley

Cole-Schultz

Ruhwedel-(Kuhnhackl)

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