After a nine day break, The Pittsburgh Penguins will return to the ice Wednesday afternoon and go through what Dan Bylsma is describing as a short mini-camp. Players are heading back to town today and tomorrow morning.
With the Olympics not ending until the 28th, the Penguins will practice on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday of this week.
A surprising devlopment will be that Sergei Gonchar/Evgeni Malkin or Sidney Crosby/Marc Andre Fleury will be returning to town earlier than first thought. As long as Canada takes care of business today against Germany in the play-in-game, a Russia/Canada showdown will happen in the quarterfinals on Wednesday.
With 20 games remaining, Pittsburgh is in position (36-22-4-76 pts) to make a run and claim a No. 2 or No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference but there are many question marks surrounding this team.
A key for the coaching staff is getting this team to play a 60 minute game with more consistency. Lapses in the D-zone have cost the Penguins wins of late and shoring up their defense is another concern. As of February 13th, the Penguins ranked 24th in team defense.
With the trade deadline looming, it will be an uneasy time for a few players in the locker room this week.
The Penguins do not play until March 2nd, one or two players might have already played their last game in a Penguins uniform.
The trade freeze ends on February 28th at 11:59 p.m., and trade talks around the league are heating up this week.
The health of Max Talbot will also be an interesting development this week. Talbot who was shutdown prior to the Olympic break, did some light skating with strength and conditioning coach Mike Kadar on Monday.
It was the first time he skated in almost three weeks. Talbot has been battling injury after injury since returning too early from off-season shoulder surgery. The latest injury is a groin injury that has caused him to miss 10 of 11 games prior to the Olympic break.