After having a day off on Thursday, the Pens practiced on Friday at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex before flying to Nashville for Games 3 and 4 of the Stanley Cup Final.
Nick Bonino was the only player absent, and head coach Mike Sullivan said he is day-to-day with a lower-body injury and will be a game-time decision on Saturday.
Bonino was hobbled blocking a shot from P.K. Subban during a 5-on-3 penalty kill during the first period of Game 2. Bonino had to be helped to the locker room, but returned for the start of the second period.
If Bonino cannot go, Carl Hagelin would likely slot back into the lineup after being a healthy scratch for Games 1 and 2 - something he admitted has been difficult for him.
"When you first find out, it's disappointing," Hagelin said. "You're frustrated, you're (peeved). But it's the Stanley Cup Final, it's not about me, it's about the team. Whenever you get the chance you've got to be ready."
Sullivan has known Hagelin for years, as he coached him from 2011-13 when they were both part of the New York Rangers organization. And as difficult as it was for Hagelin to hear the news, it was just as tough for Sullivan to deliver it.
"It's hard," Sullivan said. "Haggy, he's a great kid. He's a competitive guy. He's a real good player. He's been a big part of this team all year long. I have a great relationship with Haggy and I sat and spoke with him about the coaching staff's decision. It's never an easy one for us because we have so much respect for these players and Haggy has been in a real difficult circumstance."
The circumstance Sullivan is referring to is how Hagelin missed the last 16 games of the regular season and eight games of the postseason with a lower-body injury. Trying to overcome an injury like that, which kept him out for an extended period of time, at this time of year has been a challenge.
"It was a long-term injury and he's never really had an opportunity to recover from it. I think it's put him at a disadvantage," Sullivan said. "And in the playoffs, at this point, where the window for opportunity is so short, sometimes coaches have to make these difficult decisions.
"But I think Haggy understands it, he's working as hard as he can to do his very best to recapture his game and when the opportunity is that he goes back in the lineup, we believe he's going to help us win games. I think to his defense, it's just been a really tough circumstance that he's doing his best to overcome."
Hagelin, who has 108 games of playoff experience and had never missed time because of a coach's decision before now, said he's been doing his best to see the positives in this situation - most notably working on his skating and conditioning.
"I think every time when the game starts and you're not out there you're going to be (peeved) off, but it doesn't do you any good being (peeved) off on a day like this," Hagelin said. "You've got to go out there and do whatever you can to make yourself better and make you prepared for whatever is thrown at you. If you get in tomorrow, I've got to be ready to play. No one's going to feel sorry for me and I don't feel sorry for myself. It's one of those things I'm always a positive guy, so if I get out there I'll play a good game."
From up top, Hagelin has noticed how much Nashville's defensemen love joining the rush. As he pointed out, sometimes they have three guys going on the attack and two of them are defensemen. He said it's key to bump them every chance they get and try to slow them down.
And with his speed, that's certainly something Hagelin can do.
"I think they're a skating team, definitely," he said. "They're very mobile and as a winger you have to make sure you're moving out there."
NOTE: These were the Pens' lines without Bonino…
Hagelin-Cullen-Hornqvist (Kuhnhackl rotated in for one rush)
The Pens switched up their D pairs during Game 2 and stuck with the new ones for practice…