The Pittsburgh Penguins were back to work this morning after having an off-day on Monday. The big news of the morning was the signing of young defenseman Kris Letang to a four year extension worth $14 million.
The Penguins took the ice at 10:30 a.m. and defenseman Sergei Gonchar participated fully in today’s skate. Gonchar is on track to return to the lineup.
Gonchar was paired with defenseman Mark Eaton for the majority of line rushes, while Brooks Orpik and Kris Letang remained a pairing.
Jordan Leopold and Alex Goligoski were back as the third pairing with Jay McKee working in for a few shifts.
With Gonchar nearing his return, Jay McKee could be back in the press box Wednesday night.
Meanwhile, Evgeni Malkin is taking a step forward and has participated throughout the entire Penguins practice. Malkin has missed 6 of the Penguins last 7 games and skated on the 5th line with Eric Godard.
Malkin is not 100% but was fast enough late in the practice to avoid a puck that almost hit him in the head.
Malkin appears much improved from the last time he skated on Friday but he is not expected to be in the lineup Wednesday night. Still struggling a bit with his lateral movement and all indications are he will be held out until the weekend.
With Malkin still not taking reps on the top-4 lines, head coach Dan Bylsma continues to experiment with his lines.
Jordan Staal centered Bill Guerin and Chris Kunitz while Sidney Crosby and Alexei Ponikarovsky had a few different right wingers for line rushes.
Pascal Dupuis opened up practice on Crosby’s right wing but Ruslan Fedotenko also took reps with Crosby midway through the practice.
Here is how the lines in practice opened up.
Ponikarovsky – Crosby – Dupuis
Kunitz – Staal – Guerin
Cooke – Kennedy – Fedotenko
Rupp – Talbot – Adams
Extras: Godard, Malkin.
*Mid-way through practice, Dupuis and Fedotenko alternated on lines.