Pittsburgh Penguins center Derrick Brassard, whose absence from the lineup Wednesday raised eyebrows, was a full participant in practice Thursday at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex.
Meanwhile, center Evgeni Malkin, roundly applauded for his two-assist, sharp play in Wednesday’s win against Tampa Bay, did not practice. Coach Mike Sullivan said Malkin had a maintenance day.
Brassard, who missed Wednesday’s game because of what the team called a nagging upper-body injury, confirmed he has been dealing with a minor injury that flared earlier in the week.
“During that (Monday) game and the next day,” he said of when the problem became bad enough to pay more attention to it. “We just made a decision that it would be better to stay out of the game yesterday, and today I feel better.”
Brassard said he is a possibility to play Friday when the Ottawa Senators visit PPG Paints Arena.
“I just have to play with it and deal with it, and with time it’s going to go away,” he said. “It’s a positive day today. I felt better. I’ll see how I feel (Friday) morning.”
Sullivan was encouraged.
“’Brass’ had a decent day today,” Sullivan said. “His status is the same. We’ll see how he responds and make decisions from there.”
Sullivan was very succinct when asked whether he would re-insert Brassard into the lineup just as soon as he was ready or if there might be implications related to next month’s trade deadline.
“When he’s ready to play, he’ll play,” Sullivan said.
There was immediate suspicion, judging from social media, about Brassard possibly being close to being traded when he was announced as a lineup scratch Wednesday.
In one other development, or at least something of interest, team captain Sidney Crosby, asked as he is annually to make a Super Bowl pick, said it’s hard to pick against New England, so the Patriots, an arch rival of the Pittsburgh Steelers, are his pick.