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Jake Guentzel Returns, Joins Crosby on First Day of Phase 2

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Jake Guentzel Pittsburgh Penguins Lines

The Pittsburgh Penguins did not release the names of the group of players that hit the ice at the UPMC Lemieux Complex as part of the Penguins move to the NHL Phase 2 on Tuesday. Unlike several teams which released the names of their small groups via Twitter, and the Edmonton Oilers who posted a video of their players working on the ice, details were shrouded in secrecy.

No pictures were released, and sources initially declined to provide even the smallest details.

However, multiple team sources eventually told Pittsburgh Hockey Now the news that should make Pittsburgh Penguins fans quite happy. As part of the Penguins first group with captain Sidney Crosby, winger Jake Guentzel also participated.

Guentzel had shoulder surgery on Dec. 30. The injury was to be season-ending, but the NHL coronavirus pause pushed the season conclusion well past the expected mid-June Stanley Cup Final. The Penguins former 40-goal scorer had 43 points (20g, 23a) in 39 games before his injury.

Tuesday was likely the first time Guentzel participated in hockey-related activities since his injury. 

Guentzel and Crosby have been an even more potent playoff duo. Guentzel has 43 points, including 24 goals in just 41 games. The voluntary workout as part of Phase 2 was likely Guentzel’s first time on the ice since his injury.

It would seem the Penguins players grouped themselves based on head coach Mike Sullivan’s pairings. Pittsburgh Hockey Now also learned that Evgeni Malkin either led or will lead a second group of six players. It was unclear if a second group also worked out on Tuesday or will workout on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Malkin posted a video of himself chopping wood in a rural setting.

Details were sparse and difficult to obtain regarding the Penguins workouts. Last week, the Penguins revealed one player tested positive for COVID-19 but was feeling well. That player was not in Pittsburgh.

The team declined to name the player and did not provide further comment.

Without an exact headcount, Pittsburgh Hockey Now has been told many Penguins players rushed back to Pittsburgh in anticipation of the NHL return Phase 2. The earliest Phase 3 can begin July 10.

One player who did post some hockey-related content was spare forward Anthony Angello, who made his NHL debut this season. The 6-foot-5 Angello posted a picture to Instagram from his car with his Penguins hockey bag in his back seat.

“All smiles when getting back to business,” Angello captioned his photo, though it was unclear if Angello was headed to Pittsburgh or the rink.

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