Winners of six in a row and 11 of 12, the Pittsburgh Penguins continue to impress with several key regulars out of the lineup due to injuries. Their Thursday night win over visiting Minnesota was especially remarkable, considering it was the second game of a back-to-back situation and the team’s fifth tilt in seven days.
The first-place Pens (26-10-1, 53 points) took the ice Friday afternoon for practice at Consol Energy Center, accompanied by promising developments in the health department. Defenseman Brooks Orpik, who suffered a concussion nearly two weeks ago when attacked by Boston’s Shawn Thornton, skated with the team for the first time since the incident.
Fellow stay-at-home blueliner Rob Scuderi has been taking part in drills recently, too, inspiring hope that he could return from a broken ankle prior to the turning of the calendar page. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Seth Rorabaugh reported that Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said Scuderi and winger Tanner Glass (broken hand) are close to suiting up again, while Orpik passed his “baseline test” for concussion rehab.
Center Evgeni Malkin, who has missed the past three games with a muscular injury in his lower-body, skated with the team as well, but he’s been ruled out for Saturday’s matchup with the Calgary Flames. Malkin is still third on the NHL scoring list, as his 41 points have him five behind Chicago’s Patrick Kane and 10 back of Sidney Crosby.
Defenseman Paul Martin is still limited to off-ice activity as he reconditions after surgery to repair a broken tibia. He is expected to miss at least another few weeks.
Gospel of Hockey: Pre-holiday edition
My co-host Larry Snyder and I welcomed Penguins radio host and self-proclaimed media mastodon Brian Metzer to this week’s Gospel of Hockey, as we discussed the Pens’ incredible ability to keep winning despite so many big-production players out. Brian gave his thoughts on the youngsters fitting in well, Marc-Andre Fleury‘s strong play, Crosby’s repertoire, the upcoming Olympics, NHL discipline – and a couple fantasy hockey tips, too.
As always, Larry and I finished the show with our Local Hockey Report, covering college, junior and minor-pro teams from the region: