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Pens get a predictably tough practice after poor showing

A day after the Penguins brutal 5-1 loss to the NY Rangers, they got put through the paces by Dan Bylsma. A look at that and an injury update on James Neal, Beau Bennett and Pascal Dupuis.

Maddie Meyer

It’s a story as old as sports- team plays like crap and the next day the coach “rewards” them with a strenuous practice to reinforce the finer points of the game through physical exertion. Or, in English as the Trib’s Josh Yohe put it:

As our own Mike Darnay broke down two of these moments. All five goals the Penguins surrendered resulted from turnovers and were compounded by more than one player out of position or seemingly getting outworked by Rangers.

Those are correctable mistakes, and from the sounds of today’s practice it sounds like coach Dan Bylsma didn’t waste any time. At 11-5-0, the Pittsburgh Penguins still sit on top of the East and haven’t really had a chance to be worked. Probably their other worst game of the season- a 6-3 loss in Florida last month- came as the first night of back-to-back games, and they were able to salvage the trip by beating the Tampa Bay Lightning. Win like that, and it’s hard to be disciplined.

But now, with two days of inactivity following the Rangers game, followed by a trip to St. Louis against a 9-2-2 Blues team, it’s time to get to work. The Pens looked like a team missing some really key players like James Neal, Rob Scuderi and Beau Bennett, but the Rangers (sans Rick Nash) aren’t going to feel sorry for them. And neither is any other NHL team anyways.

Speaking of Neal, the forward participated in his first true team practice- along with contact- today, but also added:

Throw in dreaded “maintenance days” for Paul Martin and Pascal Dupuis, the latter of whom didn’t skate a shift in the third period last night, and the news goes back to grim. But in brighter developments, Beau Bennett skated on a line with Evgeni Malkin and Jussi Jokinen and Bennett’s return is looking imminent, perhaps as soon as the St. Louis game. It’ll be a welcome return to infuse some skill into a forward group that could, surprisingly, use the boost.

The main point of today’s practice was undoubtedly to be smarter with the puck and make better decisions that should lower turnovers and reduce chances against. With a heathly reinforcement of that lesson through sweat and skating, we’ll see if the Penguins are able to tighten down and show better focus the next time out.