clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

California practice update: Maatta and KCD both return

The Pittsburgh Penguins are out in California this week, and had their first practice Monday out in San Jose

Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

A quick look at the late practice for the Pittsburgh Penguins out in California.

Maatta back

First, a good piece of news, defenseman Olli Maatta rejoined the team for the first time at practice.

Maatta was injured a day short of two weeks ago back on November 17th. His prognosis was for missing 3-4 weeks, so it looks like he's on the early end of that at this point. We'll see how it goes for his continued future, but hopefully he should be on the mend sooner than later.

Kunitz-Crosby-Dupuis returns

The other biggest piece of news would be the team jumping Chris Kunitz up to the first line, swapping him with Patric Hornqvist down to the 3rd line. Which of course means the reunion of the Kunitz-Crosby-Dupuis line that the team used so much from 2010-14.

It's not ideal in late 2015, but seems necessary. Hornqvist has 0 goals and 0 assists at even-strength in the past 7 games. A player can't keep a first line job with Sidney Crosby indefinitely without scoring. Of course, Pascal Dupuis isn't exactly producing in spades either. He hasn't scored since November 11th (8 games). He's got two assists in that span, but he will remain on the first line for a game longer, and back to a more familiar position on the right-side.

While Crosby has been scoring more lately with points in 5 straight games (his longest streak of the season), he only has 2 ES goals and 0 ES assists in the last 8 games. Getting Crosby's line going is a key to getting the Pens going.

Whether or not Kunitz and Dupuis are the answer remains to be seen. Kunitz only has 3 goals and zero assists in 23 games this season and his 0.44 ES Points/60 is lowest on the team among forwards, and just abysmal.

It's clear the Pens are betting on chemistry and an old familiarity to jump all of Kunitz, Crosby and Dupuis so we'll see how this experiment goes. Given the age and lack of production by Dupuis and Kunitz, it's hard to imagine they are still viable long-term answers for Crosby's line.

Rust back to the minors

Bryan Rust, who hasn't played since getting injured back on Oct 24th, was taken off of IR and sent back to the AHL today as well. Just what the 16-2 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Pens needed, another great AHL forward. Rust played in 5 NHL games and was the first injury recall of the season. It's a wise bet that he'll be back in the NHL again before the end of the season if the team needs another replacement.