Sidney Crosby joined the Penguins in practice on Monday, after also being with the team during their morning gameday skate on Saturday (the Pens had a scheduled off day on Sunday). Crosby will be traveling with the club for their road trip to start the season in Tampa on Tuesday and then across the Sunshine State to play on Thursday in Sunrise, but the captain is not expect to play in either game.
Also ruled out for Game 1 of 82: forwards Zach Aston-Reese and Jake Guentzel, who both are getting back in gear after being removed from the COVID protocol list. Guentzel and Aston-Reese were both able to get on the ice today, but it was Guentzel’s first time on skates in eight days.
Pittsburgh used the following lines in practice today, before taking the trip south this afternoon.
Crosby and Guentzel did not do line rushes. Aston-Reese rotated in here and there. Here is the Penguins' workflow:— Pens Inside Scoop (@PensInsideScoop) October 11, 2021
That lineup is...well, not the best collection of talent one has ever seen, but it will have to do for opening night. By game two, it’s possible that Guentzel and/or Aston-Reese could be back, which would be a big help to bump Sam Lafferty and one of Dominik Simon/Drew O’Connor out. Getting Guentzel’s firepower back would be a tremendous help at this point.
From there, while Crosby has been all but ruled out for the first two games, the buzz is already beginning that Sid may be targeting Saturday in the home opener against Chicago as his first game of the season. Even if that doesn’t quite come to pass, it certainly doesn’t look like the Pens’ captain will be missing more than a handful of games before he’s able to give the lineup an even bigger boost.
Forward Radim Zohorna was sent to Wilkes-Barre today as the team makes their final moves to get under the 23 player limit.
“These guys are playing hard, they’re competing hard,” coach Mike Sullivan said after practice. “A guy like Z this morning, we really like his game. We think he’s going to help us moving forward. P.O. Joseph on the defense side, he’s knocking on the door, and he’s been there for a little bit.
“We’re real excited about these guys and the progress they’ve made and their potential moving forward to help us. That’s the nature of our business. We have to make sure we’re compliant. We’re no different from any team in that regard. These are always difficult decisions.”
Anthony Angello was waived and cleared, but has not yet officially been sent to the AHL. Mark Friedman rounded out the extras.
Brian Boyle is still without a contract, but that looks to be a mere formality to work out. Boyle was on the plane with the Pens to go to Tampa, it is still expected he will be signed very soon and announced when most advantageous for the team.