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Pens Report: Rust Returns to Practice

by Michelle Crechiolo @PensInsideScoop / Penguins Team Reporter

Winger Bryan Rust (undisclosed) participated in team practice on Wednesday at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex for the first time this training camp.

"It felt good," he said afterwards. "It was fun to be out there with the guys and kind of hoot and holler and laughing a bit instead of being out there with one or two guys or even just by myself. It was definitely fun to get back out there."

This was Rust's first time back with the group since Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final against San Jose on June 12, where he broke his finger. However, right now the 24-year-old is dealing with more than just that.

"It's more complex than the finger," said Rust, who skated on a line with Evgeni Malkin and Chris Kunitz for the duration of the playoffs. "It's just one of those things that likes to linger around, and you've just got to deal with it the right way and some days are better than others."

This summer, Rust said he was able to do a relatively normal routine in the gym and has been skating on his own for a while, so he's been able to maintain his conditioning.

"That was definitely the one thing I didn't feel out of place out there," Rust said. "I wasn't huffing and puffing. Timing was a little off, but I think that's to be expected because I didn't skate at all during the preseason and I haven't skated with the team since June 12. So it was a little bit of an adjustment there, but that will come."

Overall, head coach Mike Sullivan was encouraged with how Rust looked today.

"There was some contact limitations but as he went through the practice. It was more at his discretion," Sullivan explained. "He felt pretty good out there, he participated in all of the drills. I haven't spoken to 'Rusty' since I got off the ice, but certainly watching his participation in the practice, it seemed like he felt pretty good out there so that's encouraging."

However, Sullivan did say it's not likely that Rust will be in the lineup for opening night on Thursday against Washington.

"I think we'll probably get him in a few more practices with the team before we put him in a position to be in the lineup, but he's certainly getting close," Sullivan said.

Moving forward, Rust said it's truly a "see how it feels each morning and go from there."

"It's been getting better and better, that's why I was on the ice today," he continued. "And hopefully I'll continue it."

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