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Penguins Practice: Full House (Finally); ZAR, Heinen, DeSmith Back

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For the first time this season, a full house at Penguins practice.

For the first time this season, the Pittsburgh Penguins had a full contingent at practice Wednesday at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex. That includes the three players most recently in COVID-19 protocol — wingers Danton Heinen and Zach Aston-Reese, and backup goaltender Casey DeSmith.

The only player absent was forward Drew O’Connor, who is out longer term because of an undisclosed injury but who, while promising, might not have cracked the top 12 forwards with everyone else available anyway, so it can easily still be called a full house.

Interestingly, goalie Louis Domingue not only was still around and at practice but also seemed to work in the secondary role behind Tristan Jarry. That could be because DeSmith needs to work his way back from the protocol, or perhaps the team is giving Domingue a look at the primary backup spot.

DeSmith has struggled this season, while Domingue had a strong showing in his only start this season and Penguins debut, a 40-save showing in a 2-1 overtime win Jan. 15 at San Jose while DeSmith was unavailable.

In addition, Aston-Reese and Heinen worked on a fifth line with Radim Zohorna, again possibly because they are still working their way back.

The full house came a day after the Penguins returned Anthony Angello, Filip Hallander and Kasper Bjorkqvist to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League.

Before Wednesday, at least one regular and at times a handful of players, were out because of injuries and/or COVID-19 protocol.

After going 4-2 in a road trip that took them to the West Coast, the Penguins return home Thursday for a game against the Ottawa Senators.

The forward lines looked like this:

Jake Guentzel-Sidney Crosby-Bryan Rust

Jason Zucker-Evgeni Malkin-Kasperi Kapanen

Dominik Simon-Jeff Carter-Evan Rodrigues

Brian Boyle-Teddy Blueger-Brock McGinn

Zach Aston-Reese–Radim Zohorna-Danton Heinen

The defensive pairings:

Brian Dumoulin-Kris Letang

Marcus Pettersson-John Marino

Mike Matheson-Chad Ruhwedel

 

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Shelly is a 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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Logan
Logan
3 months ago

In my opinion.

ZAR should replace Brian Boyle and I think Heinen should replace Simon. And we should give Domingue a game in the next couple games to see what we have in him and if we could use him as our full time backup or not.

I would go with the below lineup when healthy.

Jake Guentzel-Sidney Crosby-Bryan Rust
Jason Zucker-Evgeni Malkin-Kasperi Kapanen
Danton Heinen-Jeff Carter-Evan Rodrigues
Zach Aston-Reese-Teddy Blueger-Brock McGinn

The defensive pairings:
Brian Dumoulin-Kris Letang
Marcus Pettersson-John Marino
Mike Matheson-Chad Ruhwedel

Jarry
Domingue 

Michael Hanczar
Michael Hanczar
3 months ago
Reply to  Logan

Back to back games this week. Louie for the CBJ game.

Jay95
Jay95
3 months ago
Reply to  Logan

I’m seeing a very similar lineup in my mind. Although, there’s a good possibility, and an earned one due to how hard he plays, that Simon could see time over ZAR. Either way I’m fine as they both have components to their game that are extremely effective, but neither is potting goals this season. Plus, I’m worried a bit about ZAR getting symptomatic Covid 2x in 3 months. I had it for a month last year and it does take a ton out of you Anyway, the other line up change we could see is Carter back on Geno’s RW… Read more »

Jer5051
Jer5051
3 months ago
Reply to  Jay95

What about J-Rod with Geno to help with center duties?

Timm
Timm
3 months ago

They BETTER give Domingue another game or two (or three) before making DeSmith the backup again. Louis earned a few more looks with that performance the other night. I would also have Heinen in the bottom six instead of Simon or Boyle. Unlike most Pens fans, I like Simon. Speed, work ethic. But Heinen can grind too, and can actually finish. I’d be sad to see Boyle benched also, but I think Zohorna is also a big body who is faster. If Z played as many games as Boyle, I bet he’d have more goals. But goals aren’t everything. Or… Read more »

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