Pens forward Pascal Dupuis skated with his teammates Sunday afternoon for the first time since he suffered a lower-body injury two weeks ago.
“It felt good. It was a good step in the right direction,” Dupuis said. “The next step is to see how it reacts overnight. It went pretty good out there. Right now there are no issues at all. I stayed out a little bit longer.”
The Pens announced that Dupuis would miss 4-5 weeks with the injury, which is unrelated to the blood clot that ended his 2014-15 season after 16 games.
“I’m right on the schedule of the progress of this injury. Today was a good step,” Dupuis said. “If I went out and didn’t feel good it would be a step back. The fact that I stayed on and went through practice, did a normal practice and had a big smile on my face and had fun, I think it’s the right way.”
Dupuis’ presence also put a smile on the face of his teammates.
“It was a nice surprise,” captain Sidney Crosby said. “He looks good out there. It’s nice to have him out there. He looks pretty happy and excited to be back out. We’re happy to have him out there. Hopefully he’ll be back in the lineup soon.”
“He brings a lot of energy to practice. With a veteran player like that, he’s been anxious to get back in,” head coach Mike Johnston added. “Our trainers are good there. They’ll make sure he’s fully ready. He’s had his skates before practice. Once they’ve cleared him for practice it’s a matter of getting some contact and getting up to speed. He was good today. It was a full practice. He got in some work at the end. We’ll see how he progresses over the next few days to determine a timeline for when he may get into the lineup.”
When Dupuis does return, the coaching staff will have to find a spot for him in the lineup. They have some leeway as to where they can fit him because of his versatility.
“The good thing with ‘Duper’ is that he can play a variety of roles,” Johnston said. “He’s a very good penalty killer for us. That’s important bringing him back into the lineup. He’s a guy who can play on any of those top lines. He can play on a checking line or more of a scoring line because of his speed and how he can get in on the rush.”