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Penguins News Roundup 3/17/18: Murray Takes Big Step

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2:55 p.m.: Well, this is interesting:

2:30 p.m.: Some further notes and quotes to wrap up Penguins practice in Cranberry:

–Ty Hennes was on the ice for Penguins practice. That means things were a little different. Hennes is the club’s skills coach, and this was a different sort of practice. There were no line rushes or special teams drills (so no line or defensive pairing configurations to report). Instead, the session of about 45 minutes consisted of several skills drills, pretty much none of them things you would normally see in a practice. The team used various obstacles and items to work on skating and stickhandling. It was designed to beneficial and fun.

“The last four-day break, we had a similar practice,” coach Mike Sullivan said. “There’s always a fine line between repetition and monotony. Repetition is good, but monotony isn’t. Our coaching staff is always on guard. Given the amount of days that we have here and where we are in the schedule, the amount of hockey that we’ve played, (we thought) this might be something that would be good for our team. They get a chance to work on skills. They have a lot of fun. They listen to a different voice. For all those reasons, we thought it was a good day to do that for the team.”

–The effect of the offbeat practice was noticeable. The mood seemed loose. Many of the players were out of their gear and on to the rest of their day quickly. Captain Sidney Crosby was in an exceptionally good mood, joking around with teammates. He didn’t hold a formal interview session, though. The team explained Crosby was being given a day off from that. With a team day off Friday and an off-ice workout and no media time scheduled for Sunday, Crosby will go three full days without doing interviews. Try not to go into withdrawal. In keeping with the mood, he looked up from his stall at one point and, noticing a couple of reporters tiptoeing past him and not making eye contact, he laughed and said, “You can still talk to me,” meaning saying hello or having a short casual conversation.

–Sullivan was asked about the line of communication between him and Crosby. “They’re critically important,” Sullivan said of talks between the two. “I think my relationship with Sid is very important to this team. He means so much to this team. He’s the leader of the group. So it’s important that we communicate well. We both work hard at it. I think it’s important for our overall team and it’s important for him and I to make sure that we have a strong relationship and we continue to build it.”

–In a casual conversation, I asked Olli Maatta if he was part Irish today. He smiled and shook his head. “I’m just Finnish,” he said. He gave off an air of not quite being smitten with St. Patrick’s Day. I asked if they had any sort of equivalent in Finland. He said not only was there not an equivalent, but it took him a while after he got to North America to figure out what the heck St. Patrick’s Day is or means. So apparently we aren’t all Irish today.

12:45 p.m.: Sullivan said after practice that goalie Matt Murray, who is coming back from a concussion, is not ruled out for Tuesday’s game at the New York Islanders, which is the club’s next game. Murray made it through a full practice. In other personnel matters, winger Phil Kessel just took a maintenance day, but forward Carter Rowney is out longer term because of an upper-body injury, Sullivan said. Zach Aston-Reese took a step forward by skating in full gear at the end of practice.

12:40 p.m.: Murray, after a full practice, spoke with reporters. He noted that he “could wrap my head in bubble wrap” and still not necessarily be protected against concussions. He described himself as still taking things day to day. We are working on a full story for members. Please consider joining with our highly reasonable subscription rate.

11:20 a.m: Goalie Tristan Jarry was slow getting up after making a save. Didn’t see whether he got hit in a bad spot or just went down awkwardly. He seems to be OK, back to taking shots. This, on the day Murray gets back to a full practice. Sheesh.

11:10 a.m.: Murray has remained on the ice for practice and is facing shots. With no games until Tuesday, that would seem to be a positive thing as he recovers from a concussion.

10:50 a.m.: The Penguins have a rare weekend off in terms of games. They had a full day off Friday and are scheduled for an off-ice workout with no practice Sunday.

Today, they are practicing in Cranberry. Beforehand, all three goaltenders were on the ice working with goalie coach Mike Buckley.

-Shelly Anderson

Catch up on Pittsburgh Hockey Now news and analysis:

Matt Gajtka: Kris Letang’s Self Sabotage Continues to be a Problem

Dan Kingerski: Spark the Top Line; Try Kessel and Crosby

 

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Shelly is the newest columnist and reporter for Pittsburgh Hockey Now. She was a Penguins beat writer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and remains a contributor to The Hockey News. Catch her on Twitter @_shellyanderson

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