TAMPA, Florida – The Pens will be without center Nick Bonino for some time due to a hand injury, though the exact timetable is unknown.
“He’s not going to be short-term,” head coach Mike Sullivan said following the team’s Thursday practice at the Amalie Arena. “I’m reluctant to put a timeframe on it quite yet, but we’re going to miss him for a little while.”
Bonino returned to Pittsburgh after suffering the hand injury in the third period against the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night. He has been the team’s third-line center and a key penalty killer all season long.
“He’s going to be missed in a lot of areas,” Sullivan said. “He’s a really smart player. He’s been a big part of the penalty kill. He’s a guy that you can lean on to take faceoffs in the defensive zone when you need him.”
Eric Fehr will move into the third-line center role in Bonino’s absence, something that he is ready to do.
“It’s a position I feel more comfortable in,” Fehr said yesterday. “It takes a game to get your routes back, your timing back.” (For more on Fehr’s transition and season, click here
Sullivan said it will be a committee of players filling in on the penalty kill for Bonino, including recent call-ups Tom Kuhnhackl and Bryan Rust. GOALIE SPLIT
The Pens will play 3 games in 4 nights starting with Friday’s contest in Tampa Bay. Due to this fact the coaches are weighing their options on how to dispense the goaltending duties between Marc-Andre Fleury and Jeff Zatkoff.
“We’ll throw 'Zat' into some games moving forward,” Sullivan said. “Nothing is ever etched in stone. But I would foresee him getting some games coming up because we have a bunch of games in a short period of time.”THIS ‘N AT
*Evgeni Malkin returned to practice today after having yesterday off due to a maintenance day.