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Penguins News Roundup 2/28/18: Aston-Reese Out, Plus Practice Notes

After suffering their second consecutive regulation loss — a first for this calendar year — the Penguins will report to practice.



2 p.m.: Some interesting comments from Brassard on the adjustment to Pittsburgh’s system. Will get those up on the site this afternoon in a separate piece!

1:45 p.m.: Sullivan said the Penguins’ coaching staff is working with the struggling Conor Sheary on “getting out of his own way.” Seems to me from Sullivan’s comments they feel as if Sheary is trying some things he shouldn’t on the ice lately.

Sheary, who looks like he’ll get another shot on Brassard’s wing Thursday in Boston, doesn’t have a point in five games and doesn’t have a goal in 12.

1:30 p.m.: It’s been a couple of weeks since I took in a practice. I’d forgotten how hard and fast these workouts are, even if they might be shorter in duration than some teams.

Brassard said he was happy to get a full practice in with his new teammates, if only to “see how they work out there.” Seems like the pace of practice is different here than most places, since Jamie Oleksiak said something similar when he came over from Dallas two months ago.

1:20 p.m.: More praise for the Devils from the Penguins’ locker room, even though they felt they got caught up in a chance-for-chance kind of game. Sounds like the champs know they can’t just blow teams like that out of the building.

“They were good,” Patric Hörnqvist said. “They were in our face all night. We have to be smarter, play behind them and grind out those types of games.”

Hörnqvist said Boston leans more on their structure than most, but generally there are more games in which the Penguins feel like they’re playing themselves.

“Lot of teams try to play like us,” Hörnqvist said. “Quick and fast and the transition game. … We still have to stay on top of it and get better every game.”

Brassard compared Boston’s rise to that of the Penguins a couple of years ago, when Bryan Rust and Conor Sheary stepped in to help raise the level of a veteran core.

1:15 p.m.: Injury update from Sullivan: Aston-Reese is out “longer-term” with an upper-body injury suffered Monday at practice. No update on Murray for now.

12:26 p.m.: Pretty quick workout! On to the locker room.

12:18 p.m.: Here we go with the lines and pairings …



So, status quo from last night’s game, at least the start of it.

12:10 p.m.: Just a brief foray into actual line rushes before flow drills took over. Will get a better look at combos in a few minutes probably. Hang tight.

12:06 p.m.: No Phil Kessel or Zach Aston-Reese at the practice. Assistant coach Mark Recchi fills in on Brassard’s wing, so it’s likely just a maintenance day for Kessel.

12 p.m.: These guys are right on time today. I got a kick out of Casey DeSmith (and an actual padded tripod) helping goalie coach Mike Buckley run some drills before the formal workout began.

No Matt Murray, who remains out with a concussion.

9 a.m.: After suffering their second consecutive regulation loss — a first for this calendar year — the Penguins will report to practice at the Lemieux Complex in Cranberry Township at noon Wednesday.

I’ll have our coverage of practice today, with his latest edition of Matt-alytics to follow this evening for our Patreon members. It’ll post Thursday morning for everyone else. (Click here to join the rebellion!) Otherwise, I’ll share all of the day’s relevant news in this post.

With the Bruins coming up Thursday night in Boston, the Penguins are facing their first real pushback from the league in a while. They’re still 11 points up on the Islanders, the first team out of the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference, but the past couple of games have reminded that the final quarter of the season will feature increasing standards.

We’ll see how the lines shake out at practice, with a special eye on Derick Brassard and Riley Sheahan, both of whom were used in shifting roles during Tuesday’s loss to the Devils. Dan Kingerski had our coverage and analysis from PPG Paints Arena.

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A lifelong hockey addict, Matt has been fortunate enough to make his career in his sport of choice, working in high school, juniors, college and the pros in various multimedia roles. Previous to joining PHN, Matt was a credentialed Penguins/NHL beat reporter for the past two seasons, including coverage of the 2017 Stanley Cup Final. He signed on with PHN in Feb. 2018 as co-owner, contributing commentary and analysis in various forms.

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