(UPDATED) Penguins practice: Guentzel Gets Day Off; Poehling Returns
First-line left winger Jake Guentzel did not participate in the Pittsburgh Penguins’ 50-minute practice at PPG Paints Arena Monday because he was given a “maintenance day,” coach Mike Sullivan said.
Sullivan added that he expects Guentzel to be available when the Penguins face Columbus Tuesday at 7:08 p.m. at PPG Paints Arena.
Danton Heinen took his place alongside Sidney Crosby and Rickard Rakell on the No. 1 line and Bryan Rust filled in for him on the top power play.
Guentzel is the Penguins’ No. 3 scorer, with 24 goals and 30 assists in 58 games.
Forward Ryan Poehling, who suffered a setback last week in his return from an unspecified upper-body injury, participated in the workout.
Poehling also got in some pre-practice work as part of a group that included Tristan Jarry, Drew O’Connor and P.O Joseph.
He came onto the ice wearing a regular gold jersey, but switched to a white one. That indicated he is not able to have contract, which suggests his return to the lineup is not imminent.
“He’s advanced to practicing with the team,” Sullivan said. “Obviously, it’s not full participation yet. It was in a non-contact fashion, but that certainly indicates significant progress, that he’s out there.”
Poehling skated at left wing on the fourth line, with Nick Bonino and Josh Archibald, and got in some work on the penalty-kill.
He has missed the past 10 games because of an upper-body injury, the nature of which has not been disclosed, and has sat out 24 of the Penguins’ first 62 games because of physical issues.
“Ryan’s really frustrated,” Sullivan said. “He’s a competitive guy. He wants to be in the lineup. It’s hard when players go through that … He’s been a very good player for us. He’s another one of those versatile guys who can play the wing, can play center, can kill penalties, we can move him around the lineup. He brings a ton of speed, (has) size and reach and things of that nature. He certainly makes us a better team when he’s in our lineup.”
The other forward combinations had Mikael Granlund between Jeff Carter and O’Connor and Evgeni Malkin in his usual spot with Jason Zucker and Rust.
Jarry, who ceded his place as the scheduled starter to Casey DeSmith at Florida Saturday because of illness, also is on the ice for practice.
Barring a setback, Jarry likely will be in goal when the Pittsburgh Penguins face Columbus.
Defenseman Dmitry Kulikov, acquired from Anaheim at the trade deadline Friday, practiced with the Penguins for the first time, working alongside Jan Ruuta on the No. 3 pairing.
Sullivan said he “would anticipate” Kulikov playing against the Blue Jackets, but that lineup decisions for Tuesday have not been finalized.
The other pairings were Brian Dumoulin-Kris Letang, Marcus Petterson-Jeff Petry and P.O Joseph-Chad Ruhwedel.
Granlund, acquired from Nashville last week, played left wing on the third line during his first two games with the Penguins, but moved into the middle during Monday’s workout.
“We know he’s capable of playing center,” Sullivan said. “He can play all three (forward) positions. He’s comfortable there. We’re trying to figure out combinations that give us the balance we need that give us the best chance to win, so we’re going through a little bit of a process here to try to figure out what those look like.”
Power play personnel
With Guentzel absent and Rust bumped up to the No. 1 power play, the second unit included Petry, Heinen, Granlund, Carter and Zucker.
The others on the top unit were, as usual, Crosby, Malkin, Letang and Rakell.
Sullivan watched the special-teams work from a position near the end of the Penguins’ bench, while his assistants oversaw things on the ice.
Maybe Jake got what Jars had. Weird that Jars would sit on the bench as backup being sick, but perhaps the trade deadline and Toe-kar-ski being back in WBS for the outdoor game made it impossible for any recalls, and being a goalie, not a skater put him on the bench instead of an automatic EBUG?