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(UPDATED) Penguins practice: Letang Missing; Raising Level of Play



pittsburgh penguins fenway practice

BOSTON — Kris Letang did not participate in the Pittsburgh Penguins’ late-afternoon practice at Fenway Park Sunday.

He did accompany the team here, but is not expected to play in their outdoors game against Boston Monday and is believed to have left Boston shortly after the workout concluded.

Letang suffered an unspecified lower-body injury last week and did not play in the Penguins’ 4-2 loss to New Jersey Friday.

Mike Sullivan said Letang’s day-to-day status has not changed.

Another injured defenseman, Chad Ruhwedel, took part in the workout, although Sullivan said his status has not changed, either.

The same is true of defenseman Jeff Petry, who took part in the team photo taken before practice, but was not involved in any of the drills. He “continues to work through the rehab process,” Sullivan said.

Fourth-line winger Josh Archibald, like Letang, sat out practice.

Lines and Pairs

Here are the personnel combinations the Penguins used during their workout:





Extra: O’Connor




No. 1 power play: Crosby, Malkin, Rakell, Guentzel, Smith

No. 2 power play: Joseph, Carter, Kapanen, Rust, Zucker

Elevated play a bad thing?

Coaches and players sometimes talk about the importance of an individual or team being able to elevate his/its game, but that’s not an issue when the event in question is an NHL-sponsored outdoors game.

Constructing a viable playing surface apparently requires that it be raised above ground level, which Danton Heinen — who played in one outdoors game while in college and in another with the Bruins at Notre Dame Stadium — said distinguishes those games from ones played indoors.

“The feel’s definitely different out there,” he said. They do a great job, but it’s a different rink. I think they build it up. You can hear guys skate. It vibrates a bit. It’s just a little bit of a different feel.”

Making an important point. Or two

The Penguins are 0-2-2 in their past four games, so they don’t have the luxury of not competing hard Monday, regardless of any ancillary issues associated with an outdoors game.

“One of the challenges, in my experience at being part of some of these, is that of potential distractions around these types of events, just because of the media scrutiny, the attention that they get,” Sullivan said. “If you’re not vigilant, you could potentially not have the necessary focus, or understand what’s at stake.

“That’s always the challenge when you go into these types of experiences. I can speak for our team. We’ve been involved with a fair amount of these, so we have some experience to draw on. I know they could probably say the same thing on the other side.

“For me, that’s one of the challenges. Our approach has been to embrace and enjoy everything that goes along with these unique events. These are the types of events that you look back on 20 years from now and have such fond memories. But when the puck drops, everybody needs to understand that there are two points on the line, and we need to get down to business.”

Built-in delay

Televised sporting events almost never start at the announced time — run-of-the-mill Penguins games, for example, are listed as beginning at 7 p.m., but puck drop actually happens at 7:08 — but this Winter Classic will take that to an extreme.

It is listed as a 2 p.m. game, but the opening faceoff isn’t scheduled to happen until 2:30, which means there is a half-hour of pregame coverage awaiting the audience.

Plan accordingly.

Droning on

The telecast of the game apparently will include a welcome from former Bruins captain Zdeno Chara, who filmed several takes of one this afternoon while sitting next to a stuffed bear in the Fenway Park press box.

Oh, and the filming was done with the help of a drone, which made several passes into and out of a press-box window before the actual taping began.

While it’s not true that you can’t make this stuff up, it wouldn’t be easy to do without the benefit of serious hallucinogens.