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Thursday's Practice Provides Hints To Friday's Combinations

by Jason Seidling / Pittsburgh Penguins
Less than 24 hours after opening CONSOL Energy Center with a 5-1 defeat of the Detroit Red Wings, the Penguins returned to the ice for practice on Thursday with a lighter roster after re-assigning 15 players to either Wilkes-Barre/Scranton or their junior teams.

With the roster sitting at 42 players instead of 57, the Penguins divided practice into two groups instead of three.

Group One hit the ice at 11 a.m., with Group Two following at 1 p.m.

During his media conference between the two sessions, head coach Dan Bylsma told reporters to expect to see most of the players in Group One when the Penguins travel to take on the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday night at Nationwide Arena (the team has revealed Friday night's roster, click here for details).

“It won’t be every player that you saw on the ice (on Thursday),” Bylsma said. “There are still going to be people given opportunities to show what they can do and have success.”

Here are the forward lines and d-pairings used during practice on Thursday:

Group  One




Group Two




Crosby, Strait Miss Practice

One notable omission from Thursday’s practice was captain Sidney Crosby, who left Wednesday night’s victory after two periods with a sore hip flexor.

Bylsma said Crosby’s absence was just precautionary.

“Nothing has changed,” Bylsma said. “He isn’t going to skate today, but that’s more precautionary than it is a serious injury.”

Defenseman Brian Strait, who was a late scratch against Detroit (undisclosed), also sat out practice Thursday, joining forwards Jordan Staal (foot infection) and Casey Pierro-Zabotel (broken finger) and defenseman Alex Grant (broken wrist), who are all nursing injuries.

More ‘24/7 Penguins Capitals’ Reaction

Naturally, the talk around the locker room on Thursday was focused on HBO’s announcement of the reality television series ‘24/7 Penguins/Capitals: Road to the NHL Winter Classic.’ Here is a snapshot of some of the comments heard around the locker room about the show.

Coach Bylsma on the Penguins’ participation: “I think it is exciting. It’s exciting for hockey and exciting for the Penguins to show off our personality and to provide a look inside the game of hockey. ‘24/7’ has given inside looks into boxing and NASCAR. It’s going to be good to get a look inside hockey.”

Crosby on players from both teams becoming stars as a result of the show: “I don’t know how they are going to work all of the episodes, but I’m sure with each one something will happen or somebody will be under the spotlight. That’s usually the way those things work. I’m sure some guys are going to naturally become stars.”

Crosby on how familiar he is with the ‘24/7’ concept: “I watched ‘Hard Knocks’ and have seen some of the ‘24/7’ boxing fights. They are pretty neat. They give you a pretty neat look at things and guys preparing. I think they are looking to do the same thing with our team.”

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