The PensNation was on hand for today’s Penguins practice as the team prepares for their final regular season game against the Carolina Hurricanes tomorrow night at the CONSOL Energy Center. Brooks Orpik, Joe Vitale and Marc-Andre Fleury did not participate in the practice.
The big story coming out of practice was that Penguins captain Sidney Crosby returning to practice with his teammates for the first time since he broke his jaw. Despite missing a good chunk of games, Crosby looked good conditioning-wise, but his jaw protector seemed to irritate him a bit. After practice, he announced that he will not play in tomorrow’s regular season finale and will simply focus on getting ready for the playoffs. He will return to the lineup as soon as the doctors believe he has healed enough to play in a game. The lines today at practice were:
Crosby skated with Beau Bennett, Dustin Jeffrey and Steve MacIntyre. However, Crosby did get some time with the first power play unit that consisted of Kris Letang, Evgeni Malkin, Jarome Iginla and James Neal.
With Orpik out, the defensive pairs looked like this:
Eric Hartzell and Tomas Vokoun were the goaltenders today with Fleury out because of the pending birth of his child.
After the game, coach Dan Bylsma announced that Neal and Paul Martin will return to the lineup tomorrow night. Neal, who sported a tinted visor in practice, has missed Pittsburgh’s last 8 games after suffering a concussion while Martin has missed the past 12 games with a broken bone in his hand.