Less than 24 hours after the Pittsburgh Penguins’ second forward line broke out in a big way, the team received some positive news about the future of its third line.
Winger Beau Bennett, out of action since late November with a broken wrist, will report to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the AHL this weekend to begin a rehab assignment. The Penguins announced this development after their Friday practice at Consol Energy Center, where they will host Tampa Bay tomorrow afternoon.
The 22-year-old Bennett was projected to be a key piece of the Penguins this season, but the former first-round draft pick has been limited to three points (one goal) in 12 games after a tantalizing 2013 campaign. Bennett said his legs are feeling great after months of conditioning work, but his hands need further refinement in the minors.
If Bennett can find his way back into the Pittsburgh lineup before the playoffs, it would be huge for the team’s forward depth. The revamped first line of Sidney Crosby, Chris Kunitz and Lee Stempniak looks solid, and the Evgeni Malkin-James Neal-Jussi Jokinen trio combined for six points (2g, 4a) in the Pens’ 5-4 overtime loss at Detroit on Thursday.
Pittsburgh’s bottom six forwards have been bolstered by the addition of center Marcel Goc at the trade deadline, but it could still use more scoring punch at the wing position. Bennett could provide that, assuming he suffers no further setbacks in his ongoing recovery.
Fourth-liner Joe Vitale missed Friday’s practice with an upper-body injury. He has been ruled out for Saturday’s tilt with Tampa Bay and Sunday’s meeting with league-best St. Louis.
We discussed an interesting week for the Pens, breaking down their recent play and what they can do to further prepare for the playoffs. We also looked into possible postseason matchups for Pittsburgh, plus the ongoing conference tournament runs for the Robert Morris and Penn State men’s varsity programs: