The Pittsburgh Penguins went through their first preparations this morning for the Montreal Canadiens.
Head coach Dan Bylsma put his team through a 60 minute skate with the first half of the practice focused on line rushes, face-off drills, cycling and 2-on-1 drills.
Winger Chris Kunitz hit the ice this morning for the first time since game 6. Kunitz participated fully in today’s skate and will play in game 1. Kunitz took a regular shift with Sidney Crosby and Bill Guerin on the top line. Kunitz looked sharp in practice. It’s believed he has been bothered by a right shoulder injury.
Winger Tyler Kennedy skated for the first time since Monday. Kennedy, however, appears unlikely to play in game 1 and his status for game 2 is up in the air.
Kennedy who suffered a knee sprain in game 4, was skating gingerly at times and spent the entire practice on the 5th line. After practice, Kennedy did not rule himself out for game 1 but he’s a major longshot to play.
Defenseman Jordan Leopold practiced for the second straight day and was paired with Ben Lovejoy. Leopold said after practice that he is unlikely to play in game 1. Appears he’s on track to return when the series shifts back to Ottawa.
Is head coach Dan Bylsma going with Chris Conner over Ruslan Fedotenko to open the series?
Based on today’s practice that appears to be the case.
Fedotenko took the first line rush with the Michael Rupp and Craig Adams on the fourth line but that ended up being his only line rush on the 4th line.
For the majority of practice, Craig Adams centered Michael Rupp and Chris Conner.
Fedotenko spent most of the practice on a line with Tyler Kennedy and Eric Godard.
Today’s Practice Lines
Kunitz – Crosby – Guerin
Ponikarovsky – Malkin – Talbot
Cooke – Staal – Dupuis
Rupp – Adams – Conner
Fedotenko – Kennedy – Godard
Gonchar – Orpik
Eaton – Letang
Goligoski – McKee
Leopold – Lovejoy
Notes: None of the Penguins recalls from Wednesday participated in today’s practice. The practice lines list were the only players who practiced.
Goaltenders Marc Andre Fleury and Brent Johnson were the only goaltenders on the ice.
The group of Wilkes Barre/Scranton recalls were at the facility doing off-ice training. All of the players, including Eric Tangradi were in attendance.
*Pittsburgh’s top three lines are set for game 1. Max Talbot has won his spot back on the second line alongside Evgeni Malkin.
Pascal Dupuis will remain on the third line with Jordan Staal and Matt Cooke.
*The Montreal Canadiens arrived in Pittsburgh late last night and are having an optional practice this afternoon.