The Inside Scoop: Maatta Takes Contact; Dupuis Cleared
/ Pittsburgh Penguins
LOS ANGELES, California – Pens defenseman Olli Maatta took part in full team practice Thursday afternoon at Toyota Sports Center, including all contact drills.
“It felt good today,” Maatta said. “I took the next step with the contact. I didn’t have any setbacks. It’s progressing really well.”
If all goes well today and Friday, Maatta could be back in the Pens’ lineup at some point this weekend when they play back-to-back games against Los Angeles and Anaheim.
“There is a chance (Maatta could play),” head coach Mike Johnston said “He made it through the contact with the team. We’ll see tomorrow morning. If we can get another good practice with him, there’s a chance he could play on the weekend.”
Maatta has missed the past six games with an upper-body injury after falling awkwardly into an open door on the bench along the boards Nov. 17 against Minnesota.
Maatta joined his teammates for non-contact practice on Monday and Tuesday, but did undergo contact following the practices.
LETANG LEAVES; PRACTICE FLOW Defenseman Kris Letang began practice with the Pens and even skated with Maatta as his defensive partner. Letang left the practice halfway through.
DUPUIS CLEARED Winger Pascal Dupuis was back on the ice for practice on Thursday.
Dupuis left after the second period of the Pens’ 5-1 win in San Jose on Tuesday night as a precaution after he wasn’t feeling well. Doctors cleared him to return to the ice.
“I’m fine, I feel good. Back to normal,” Dupuis said. “I didn’t feel good (during the game) and left the game. I felt good the next day.”
Dupuis, 36, missed nearly all of last season due to a blood clot in his leg. He was on blood thinners for six months. He returned this season, but the team is being very precautious with his health, and won’t hesitate to pull him if there are any concerns.
Dupuis was held out of the Pens’ game in Edmonton last month after he wasn’t feeling well. He was cleared by doctors, but it was just another indication that the Pens are doing everything they can to make Dupuis’ health their No. 1 priority.
“Any time he’s not feeling well we will be cautious with him and in practice today he was all set and ready to go,” Johnston said.
VOLLEYBALL Per the new rules of the CBA, every team must have at least one day off per week for the players. The Pens day off this week was Wednesday. But just because the players had the day to themselves didn’t mean they didn’t take part in some team bonding.
California native Beau Bennett organized a team volleyball matchup in which nearly half the team participated. Playing volleyball on Manhattan Beach is a regularly routine of Bennett’s during the offseason.
“It’s my routine in the summers on Saturdays to get a big group of people to play volleyball for six or seven hours,” Bennett said. “It was weird with the sun setting around 4:30. We didn’t have much time, but guys are surprisingly pretty good at volleyball on this team. We had some good games.”