CRANBERRY TOWNSHIP, Pa — The pace picked up only a few minutes into practice. Warm-up was clearly over. The Pittsburgh Penguins off-day practice was a fast, spirited and yet light-hearted go at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex.
12:55 p.m.: Rumors grew inside the locker room the Penguins will be without Evgeni Malkin tomorrow. Malkin was escorted off the ice after tangling with a Flyers defender late in the first period. Malkin returned in the second period and finished the game, but was absent for the fully attended practice.
Carl Hagelin admitted the team doesn’t know if Malkin can play in Game 6. “We don’t know,” he said, which removes any thought of Malkin’s absence being a maintenance day.
Patric Hornqvist returned to practice as a full participant and was upgraded by head coach Mike Sullivan from out to, “All players are a game-time decision.”
“I try to have fun, stay on the positive side of things. Things don’t always go your way out there, but we’re here for a reason,” Hornqvist said. “If you stay positive it helps some guys and myself to be in the right mood.”
Hornqvist is, in all likelihood, going to play in Game 6.
Matt Murray is getting as good at stopping questions as he is stopping pucks. When asked about the Penguins history of bouncing back after losses, he responded quietly, “We just play the game.”
When asked if its easier to focus on the road, especially in elimination games, he looked at PHN and responded, “Same.”
Forgive the personal inclusion, Murray caught my joyful smirk at his wonderfully simple answers (goaltender’s eyes, I guess). I rather enjoy the Murray media scrums as a challenge to get an answer. Murray has recently decided to enter lockdown mode regarding the media comments.
That’s perfectly his right. I think it makes him more interesting than players who give long-winded cliche answers to questions. Murray will never lack authenticity.
12:15 p.m: Special teams battles. Hornqvist is parked in front of the net while Brian Dumoulin leans on him. The crazy Viking couldn’t help but give Dumoulin a few “good natured” whacks. Dumoulin played the good teammate and let Hornqvist do what Hornqvist does.
12:05: Line rushes. Hornqvist is in full gear and full participant. Malkin is absent so, the lines aren’t fully formed, but the team was at full speed and shooting on backup goalie Casey DeSmith.
Hoots and hollers followed goals but DeSmith didn’t seem to enjoy the fun.
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