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Insider Only Friday Practice Report: Kunitz eyes return to lineup

The Pittsburgh Penguins snapped a two game winless streak Thursday night, defeating the Montreal Canadiens 3-2 at the Bell Centre behind a game winning goal from Pascal Dupuis.
Much of the talk today was about the blown call by referee Chris Lee in the third period. Lee lost sight of the puck in Fleury’s crease right before Scott Gomez put it past Fleury in what would have tied the game 3-3. Winning teams get bounces like that.
This afternoon the Penguins got back to work as head coach Dan Bylsma put his team through a 60 minute up-tempo practice with a lot of emphasis on skilled drills.
***Prior to practice Michael Rupp was working out for the Pittsburgh Steelers on the ice.
On a serious note, winger Chris Kunitz is eyeing a return to the lineup Saturday night against Florida. Kunitz went through another full squad practice and appears ready to go. However, I’m told Kunitz will be a coaches decision tomorrow night and it’s a good bet that Kunitz will return Tuesday night against Philadelphia at the latest.
As for where Kunitz will fit in the Penguins lineup, today in practice was a good indication.

Based on practice this week and what I’m being told, Kunitz will reclaim his spot on Sidney Crosby’s line when he returns to the lineup Saturday night or Tuesday night.
In practice today, Kunitz alternated with Pascal Dupuis on the top line with Bill Guerin and Sidney Crosby. The two went through a 1-and-1 rotation, an indication that Bylsma may sit Kunitz for one more game.
Michael Rupp remained on the second line today with Evgeni Malkin and Ruslan Fedotenko who played the right side.
The Cooke – Staal – Kennedy unit stayed together, along with the Talbot – Adams – Godard unit.
On nights when Eric Godard plays, one of the Penguins regulars is going to the press box. It clearly won’t be Michael Rupp or Pascal Dupuis and based on performance you can make a strong argument that Ruslan Fedotenko should sit but I’m told that’s unlikely because the Penguins are shopping him.
Barring a setback, Chris Kunitz will be in the lineup by Tuesday night as the Penguins begin a home and home series against Philadelphia.
It doesn’t make sense to take Craig Adams or Max Talbot out of the lineup against Philadelphia but if Bylsma won’t sit Fedotenko, it’s either going to be Adams or Talbot.

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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