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Insider Only Wednesday Practice Report: Orpik on track to return against St. Lous; Staal progressing

Wednesday Practice Report
Pittsburgh Penguins center Jordan Staal went through his second full practice today and his workload increased.
Staal participated in the Penguins full ice 4-on-4 drills and took a regular shift on the penalty kill with Pascal Dupuis, working primarily against the Penguins second power play unit.
At times Staal looked excellent out there, scoring the 1st goal during the 10+ minutes of 4-on-4 drills, putting home an Arron Asham rebound past Brent Johnson.
Staal’s straight forward speed was outstanding and the only area where you can tell his foot is not 100% is during cross overs when he’s trying to get an extra push.
Nonetheless, It was another big step for Staal who was really enjoying himself out there.
“I think I’m most happy for him and his mindset, ” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “He’s been getting better but to get on the ice with the guys is great. I don’t think he’s been this happy about practice, at least I haven’t ever seen him this happy about practice.”
Staal for the second straight day said he feels like he can play now and indicated that he will travel with the team on their upcoming road trip.
“If it’s me, feel like I can play tomorrow but there are going to be a lot of people around me who try to slow me down and do what’s best for myself, ” Staal said. “I will be on the road trip.”

“A lot more ice for myself on the road trip, skating with the guys and getting my hands better.”
Staal though is under no consideration to play during the road trip. His timetable is in the 2-3 weeks timetable, barring not setback.

Orpik expected to return Saturday night

Defenseman Brooks Orpik also practiced for a second straight day but as expected will not play Thursday night. Orpik is targeting Saturday night against the St. Louis Blues for a return to game action. Orpik has missed the past five games due to a groin injury.
He said today he feels good but needs another day or two of conditioning.

Goligoski, Letang paired together in practice

Alex Goligoski and Kris Letang spent the entire practice as a D-pairing. The two were paired during 4-on-4 situational play and during 5-on-5 and 3-on-2 line rushes.
I asked Alex after practice if he expects to be paired with Kris tomorrow and he wasn’t sure. He made it sound like it’s something we’ll see more in certain situations when the Penguins are looking to attack offensively.
The pairings in practice were as followed:
Martin – Lovejoy
Goligoski – Letang
Orpik – Engelland
Hutchinson

Asham getting back into game shape

Like Orpik and Staal, Arron Asham went through another full practice. Asham said today that he is working on getting back into game shape.
Asham will not play against Nashville but is on target to return next Wednesday against the Tampa Bay. That is believed to be the target date as Asham somewhat indicated today that the coaching staff wants him to get a full week of practice in before returning.
Near the end of practice, Asham worked with strength and conditioning coach Mike Kadar who was checking Asham into the boards with the focus on Asham’s injured left shoulder getting some physical contact.

Lines & Power Play Units

Kunitz – Crosby – Dupuis
Comrie – Letestu – Malkin
Cooke – Talbot – Kennedy
Tangradi – Adams – Rupp
Asham – Staal – Godard

Power Play Units

1st Unit
Goligoski – Kunitz – Crosby
Malkin – Letang
2nd Unit
Letestu – Cooke – Comrie
Hutchinson – Martin

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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