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Pens Report: 11.15.16

by Sam Kasan @PensInsideScoop / Pittsburgh Penguins

Defenseman Derrick Pouliot participated in his first team practice since suffering a lower-body injury Oct. 20 against San Jose. 

 "I'm feeling good," Pouliot said. "It's good to get back out there with the guys, get into more game-like situations. … I felt like I was going hard. My timing is half a step behind, but with each practice that will come back."

Pouliot, who wore a yellow "no contact" jersey, has missed the past four weeks and 10 games with the injury.

"I don't know if I'm supposed to be doing a bunch of contact, but I felt good out there," said Pouliot at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry, Pa. "It's good to bump around and get used to it."

Pouliot, who will join the Pens on their upcoming three-game road trip, has only played in one game this season. That was the contest against San Jose in which he was injured.

"It is frustrating, some bad luck, bad timing," Pouliot said. "It happens. There's nothing I can do about it. All I can do is try to be ready when I'm good to go out there."

Although there is no timetable for Pouliot's return to the lineup, his return to practice is an encouraging sign.

"The fact that he's joining the group is a big step," head coach Mike Sullivan said. "Usually when players join the team it's not that far removed from full contact and then it becomes a coaches' decision."

*The Pens had full attendance at practice, including Nick Bonino. The Pens center did not participate in the team's Monday practice, but pronounced himself ready to play Wednesday night in Washington against the Capitals.

*The Pens have shuffled and re-shuffled and re-shuffled their lines this season. That's quite a common practice in the NHL.

The coaching staff began the season with the same configuration from last season's Stanley Cup championship run, including the culturally famous HBK Line (Carl Hagelin, Bonino and Phil Kessel). After a brief split, the trio has been put back together.

"I thought they had a real strong game the other night. They generated a numerous amount of chances," Sullivan said. "Since we've put them back together the coaching staff is very pleased with the looks that they're getting and how they're playing."

Although the line hasn't been as productive on the scoresheet as they were during last year's postseason, Bonino believes that it's only a matter of time before their chances start equating to goals.

"We had a ton of chances, but the puck doesn't want to go in," Bonino said. "It seemed like last year it went in every single time. This year hasn't yet.

"We need a little bit of bounces … We're not worried."

*The Pens used the following workflow…

Kunitz-Malkin-Rust

Sheary-Crosby-Hornqvist

Hagelin-Bonino-Kessel

Kuhnhackl-Cullen-Fehr

(Sestito, Wilson)

Dumoulin-Letang

Maatta-Daley

Cole-Schultz

Pouliot-Oleksy

PP1: Letang, Crosby, Malkin, Kessel, Hornqvist

PP2: Daley, Schultz, Bonino, Sheary, Kunitz

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