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Bounce-Back the Latest Bromance Chapter for Carter, Kapanen

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Pittsburgh Penguins, jeff carter, kasperi kapanen

CRANBERRY — There they were, the two buddies and linemates together again Tuesday at Pittsburgh Penguins practice – center Jeff Carter back to a full go after an upper-body injury, and winger Kasperi Kapanen alongside.

They skated together on the third line with Danton Heinen on the left side during drills at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex, which seems like a fit that probably will stick.

The two go back to the days when Carter played for Philadelphia and Kapanen was a youngster hanging around with his dad, Flyers veteran Sami Kapanen. And now the two are looking for a new shared experience: bouncing back from subpar seasons in 2021-22.

“We get along real well on and off the ice,” Carter said. “With his skill set, if we can really find our groove, I think we can be a big help to this team with some depth scoring and helping out the big guys. That’s kind of our role, and that’s the plan.”

Carter said he felt good after his first practice with contact since the injury. He declined to even remotely comment on the injury, or even to confirm it happened during a Sept. 24 scrimmage (it did), but he did so with a big smile.

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan called Carter “a good pro.”

At 37, Carter is looking to be stronger throughout the season after he collected 19 goals, 41 points in 76 games last season but admittedly struggled late in the season, blaming the workload after COVID-19 cut the previous two seasons short.

“It’s not easy playing 82 games and travel and time change and wake up and practice every day,” he said. “It takes a toll on your body. I think it was kind of a shock to everybody a little bit (to go back to an 82-game schedule). I thought we handled it really well in terms of our conditioning and getting our rest. I think we should be ready to go.”

For Carter, he will have to be ready despite the lack of a full training camp, thanks to his upper-body injury.

“It’s never ideal to miss time,” he said. “With where I’m at right now, I probably could have used a few extra (preseason) games, but I’ve been working hard in non-contact situations, and I felt good (Tuesday with contact allowed).”

Kapanen was thrilled to get his buddy back.

“I missed him,” Kapanen said. “He’s been away for a little bit. It’s nice to have him back.

“I think he’s helped me out a lot ever since he got here. I think last year was a bit of a struggle on both our ends, but we’re coming into this year with a clean slate and trying to be better and communicate and get better every day.”

Kapanen, 26, had 11 goals, 39 points in 79 games last season but rarely looked to be at his best – or, at times, even interested. Looks weren’t deceiving.

“I wasn’t really enjoying hockey for the majority of year,” Kapenen said. “So I’m just trying to get back to my roots and just being the player that I used to be.”

One thing that has added to Kapanen’s enjoyment – besides hanging out with Carter again – is his new role, that of Kasperi Kapanen, penalty killer.

“I love it,” he said. “I think with my strength and my speed I can be a threat out there and help the team PK-wise. I did it in Toronto for four or five years. Little rusty still, but it’s coming along well.

“Obviously, you need to take care of your end first and not let them score, but if there’s ever a chance to go on the offense, I think I might be able to get a couple breakaways and two-on-ones this year.”

 

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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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Pete
Pete
1 month ago

Ridiculous. Kapanen does nothing!
Trade him for a bag of practice pucks.

Alan Smith
1 month ago

Need everyone on board and motivated to win the Cup! Pens are deep in talent, skill and speed! Kappy played both ends well in the playoff and Carter just needs some breaks over the whole of the season. Carter stepped into a tough situation last season and held the Pens together when they needed him the most! Go Pens!

Brandon O
Brandon O
1 month ago

I hope they can roll 4 lines and keep the minutes down for Sid, Geno and Carter. Blueger is a luxury at 4c so hopefully he plays more then just defensive situations. We’ll need Zucker and Kapenen being competent in their roles to pick up the age related decline of our stars production. What is a reasonable expectation for Kapenen to be considered a success? 40 points? 45.. 50?