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Post-Practice Buzz: Letang out for at least next couple games; Vitale getting close; Niskanen won’t return on road trip
Post-Practice Injury Buzz
The Penguins will be without defenseman Kris Letang for at least the next couple games.
Letang did not practice today, and won’t play on the Penguins upcoming road trip to New York where they face the Islanders and Sabres in back-to-back situations on Thursday and Friday night.
Head coach Dan Bylsma said Letang also won’t travel with the team on the two-game road trip and will remain in Pittsburgh. Bylsma called Letang day to day. Penguin officials are confident Letang will be ready to go for the playoffs.
*Defenseman Matt Niskanen is also not ready to return to game action. Niskanen who skated on his own again today, did not participate in today’s practice and like Letang won’t play against the Islanders or Sabres. Niskanen though appears likely to get a couple games in next week before the playoffs.
With Niskanen and Letang not coming back to the lineup this week, Brian Strait and Simon Despres will remain in the lineup on the road trip.
*Center Joe Vitale was a full participant in today’s skate after missing the last five games due to a shoulder injury. He’s cleared for contact drills but is not game ready just yet. He won’t play Thursday night but appears to be a good bet to return by Sunday against the Flyers.
*Steve Sullivan was bumped up to Sidney Crosby’s line this morning, as Crosby centered Sullivan and Pascal Dupuis on the second line.
*With Sullivan moving up to Crosby’s wing, Jordan Staal centered Matt Cooke and Tyler Kennedy on the third line, a likely line come playoff time.
*Dan Bylsma who is frustrated with his team thinking offense all the time, gave his players an earful during one point in practice while the players were stationed near the board.
*Goaltender Marc Andre Fleury practiced and indicated he is fine and is not dealing with any lingering effects from the blow to the head he took from teammate Paul Martin on Nielsen’s goal.
* Goaltender Brent Johnson will travel with team on their road trip and is expected to dress in one of the next two games. Johnson will resume the No. 2 role.