At Penguins practice on Wednesday, the team welcomed back an important piece in a perhaps unexpected time when Jason Zucker not only returned to practice in a full contact jersey, but also took his spot in line rushes and with the second power play.
Zucker is taking line rushes, we love to see it! Here is the Penguins' workflow:— Pens Inside Scoop (@PensInsideScoop) April 6, 2022
That’s pretty remarkable considering that just yesterday, when it came to Zucker, coach Mike Sullivan said:
“I’m not going to speak to the specifics of the injury,” Sullivan said. “What I will say is that our doctors are continuing to consult with one another. But having said that, his response over the last few days has been really encouraging. He was on the ice (Monday). He was on the ice again (Tuesday).
“We still don’t have definitive information from our medical staff. But certainly, we’re encouraged with what we’ve seen and (with Zucker’s) feedback himself since he went into the boards in Minnesota.”
Sullivan wouldn’t give much away, but the player participation doesn’t lie. On Monday, Zucker skated briefly by himself in a track suit. On Tuesday, he upgraded to full gear and worked in some individual drills. By Wednesday, boom, he’s back to pretty much about normal. In fact, he even declared himself healthy.
Jason Zucker: "This is the first time I've been healthy for in a long time... I'm just excited to be back in the lineup and playing whenever that is."— Mike DeFabo (@MikeDeFabo) April 6, 2022
Coach Mike Sullivan called Zucker “day-to-day” and said the forward would travel with the Penguins to New York City today. The Penguins play the Rangers tomorrow. Sullivan also used that favorite word of his, “encouraged”, when talking about where Zucker is, without fully saying he would be back.
Mike Sullivan said Jason Zucker's status is day-to-day.— Pens Inside Scoop (@PensInsideScoop) April 6, 2022
"He's going to travel with us to New York. We'll see how it goes, but we're certainly encouraged by what we saw today. He had a good practice."
Though a strange non-diagnosis and not much in the way of updates, it certainly has been very encouraging with the way Zucker has responded in the last week since going down. Based on what the player himself said, it looks like he will be able to be back as soon as tomorrow for the Return Part III really, considering he’s had injuries in December and January already. Third time is the charm, right?