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The Inside Scoop: Bennett Returns to Practice

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
  • Marc-Andre Fleury (concussion) practiced. Status for Game 1 is unknown.
  • Olli Maatta (lower-body) practiced. He will be game-time decision for Game 1.
  • Beau Bennett practiced for first time. His status for Game 1 is unknown.

Another day, another injured player rejoins the Pens at practice.

Forward Beau Bennett, who missed the final two regular-season games for Pittsburgh with an undisclosed injury, participated in team practice for the first time since the injury on Tuesday at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry.

“I feel better skating with the team, and feeling better every day,” Bennett said. “Obviously, I want to play. It’s a team sport. You don’t want to be a liability. You don’t want to hurt your team. Right now, it’s all about who will get the job done.”

Bennett will test the injury during practice, though it is always difficult to simulate game situations.

“Guys aren’t really going to run you in practice,” Bennett said. “That’s a good thing at this time of year. You want to test it as much as possible. Hopefully, in the next few days I’ll be able to do that.”

Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury practiced for the second consecutive day. He said he feels good, but his status for Game 1 is still undetermined.

“I’m still working my way back timing-wise, technically and things here and there,” said Fleury, who hasn’t had any setbacks. “I feel pretty good.”

Defenseman Olli Maatta, who did not play in the last nine regular-season games for the Pens with a lower-body injury, took part in his second consecutive practice.

“I felt good out there,” Maatta said. “It was a good practice. No limitations. I want to (play) for sure. But we don’t know yet.”

“(Maatta’s) progress is evident out there,” head coach Mike Sullivan said. “I thought he had two really strong practices. He’ll be a coach’s decision (for Game 1).”

Maatta, who rotated partners at practice, said that his conditioning is where he wants it to be if he were to return to the lineup.

“I feel confident jumping in there,” Maatta said. “I feel my conditioning is back.

“I skated a couple of times now. I think it may even be a good thing getting a week off, then back to skating. I don’t feel like I have taken a step back in condition.”

Regardless of the player, the Pens take the same approach when deciding to reinsert injured players into the lineup.

“We rely on our medical staff in that regard,” Sullivan said. “Then we watch his performance on the ice and whether he can contribute and help us win. That’s always the question we ask ourselves.”

Marc-Andre Fleury on facing an aggressive net-crash from the Rangers: “I’m sure they will. They always do. They’re a team with big guys that like to go to the net, screens. I’m not too worried about it. If I come back it’s because I’m good, and I’ll be fine with it.”

Sidney Crosby on what the Pens can draw from regular-season matchup with Rangers: “Nothing. It doesn’t really matter. You find out where your strengths are and where you’re successful, where you need to clean up. But none of that means anything now. We have to go out there and win four games.”

Coach Sullivan on the young Pens players making their NHL playoff debut: “I think they’re all excited to be a part of it. That’s one of the greatest things about being a young player, having an opportunity to participate in the Stanley Cup playoffs. It’s what we all grow up and aspire to do in your hockey life.”

Carl Hagelin on if there is added incentive playing the Rangers: “Not really. I’ve played them enough this year. I’m just focusing on what I can do to help this team out.”

Evgeni Malkin (upper-body), Matt Murray (upper-body) and Bryan Rust (lower-body) did not practice. The team used the following workflow…


The defensemen rotated through various different pairs.
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