Letang takes another step
Penguins defenseman Kris Letang, recovering from what is believed to be a knee injury, took another step toward getting back in the lineup today.
He skated with his teammates during an optional game-day skate at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla., then stayed on the ice afterward to get some contact.
He won't be in uniform for the Penguins' game against Florida tonight at 7:43 p.m., but barring a setback, is getting closer to making his 2013-14 debut.
"He’s progressing," said coach Dan Bylsma, who was quick to add that "today’s practice won’t be an indication that he’s ready to go or not ready to go" even though he clearly was impressed by how Letang has gotten around the ice during the past two days.
"He's good in that regard, in terms of getting up and down the ice and skating ability," Bylsma said.
How Letang responds to today's contact, as well as that he's scheduled to get Saturday and Monday, will determine when he takes the next step in his recovery.
"We’ll probably see how the next three days go, to see how he’s progressing," Bylsma said. "Whether he’s doing well with that, or whether we’d have to taper his progression."
Winger Matt D'Agostini, who also has yet to play this season because of an unspecified injury, did not participate in the morning skate, but worked out on the ice after it.
Some other notes in advance of the Penguins-Panthers game tonight:
*** Rookie goalie Jeff Zatkoff will, as expected, make his NHL debut against Florida tonight. No. 1 goalie Marc-Andre Fleury said he will speak with Zatkoff before the game, but doesn't believe there's much need to offer him advice. "He’s been doing this for a long time, and has worked hard to get where he’s at," Fleury said. "I think he knows what to do."
*** Penguins defenseman Matt Niskanen needs one assist for 100 in the NHL.
*** Penguins center Brandon Sutter has assists in three consecutive games, matching the longest such streak in his career.
*** Penguins center Sidney Crosby has points in each of the Penguins' first three games, his longest streak since getting at least one in each of his first six games in the league back in 2005-06.
*** Tonight's game will be the Penguins' first on the road this season. They are 20-17-8 in road-openers.
*** The Penguins, 3-0, have won started a season with four victories since going 7-0 in 1994-95.
*** The Penguins have won 12 of their past 15 games against the Panthers.
*** Florida has won its past three home openers.