The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia have come to a close and the Pittsburgh Penguins are gearing up to finish up the 2013-14 NHL season. We went into the break with a number of key injuries and come back with some positive news.
When practice resumed last week the Pens had just 5 healthy forwards and 4 healthy defensemen in the lineup, but we got a pleasant surprise when we found that they had 3 goaltenders as Tomas Vokoun was cleared to return to practice.
With their star players over in Russia competing for medals they had light practices with mostly drills and short scrimmages. They were unable to do the normal activities and line rushes they do when they have a full lineup available.
It wasn't long before Taylor Pyatt joined them as well, and yesterday saw the return of Joe Vitale to the main practice group. The team is slowly returning to some semblance of health.
However, there are still a couple players that should be close to return, as Beau Bennett and Chris Conner have been skating before practice and have been improving every day.
This morning we got even more reinforcements as Brian Gibbons and Simon Despres were recalled from the AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
The Despres makes sense in light of the injury to Paul Martin in the Olympics which could have him out for a month and Kris Letang's stroke which is expected to sideline him for at least 6 weeks.
Gibbons is likely to get another look skating with Chris Kunitz and Sidney Crosby, a job that many expected to fall to Bennett when he returned from injury. But with Bennett still out, not to mention how well Gibbons had played in his last appearance, it looks like it falls on his shoulders again.