Anyone looking for hints about the Pittsburgh Penguins’ lineup Wednesday in New York when they try to close out their first-round playoff series against the Rangers is probably out of luck.
The Penguins, who hold a 3-1 series lead following Monday’s 7-2 win, had a well-attended an optional practice Tuesday at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex. The only healthy players not on the ice were defensemen Chad Ruhwedel and Mark Friedman and forwards Jason Zucker, Evgeni Malkin and Jeff Carter.
The fact that so many players took the option to practice – and even with a tight turnaround for the team flight to New York – might indicate the Penguins are in full game-face mode with a chance to close out the series in Game 5 Wednesday.
“Nobody’s comfortable,” Sullivan said. “We understand the challenge ahead of us. We’re just trying to stay in the moment. We have to stay hungry. That’s the most important thing.”
Because it was an optional, there is no report on the players who did not skate. The only possible concern is Zucker, who seemed to be in discomfort late on Monday’s game but did not exit the game.
Winger Rickard Rakell, who left Game 1 after taking a thunderous hit from New York’s Ryan Lindgren, was on the ice for the optional. He wore a regular, rather than a non-contact, jersey, but coach Mike Sullivan said that was based on the optional status of the practice, and that Rakell has not been cleared for contact.
Defenseman Brian Dumoulin, who has missed the past two games because of an undisclosed injury, was not on the ice, so it seems doubtful he will return Wednesday.
Goaltender Tristan Jarry, recovering from a broken foot, again skated before practice with goaltending coach Andy Chiodo, and again took shots from Chiodo.
The shots came at different times in a workout that lasted at least 45 minutes and came from different angles.
It seemed like a substantial workout, and Jarry continues to look good skating and maneuvering around the crease, but it remains unclear when he might be able to return to practice and then play.