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Whitney might practice next week

It is possible injured defenseman Ryan Whitney could practice with the Penguins next week.

If not, likely by Thanksgiving.

"A week or two - that's the idea and hopefully go from there," Whitney said Thursday prior to the Penguins' game against the Philadelphia Flyers at Mellon Arena.

"I skate each morning, and it's getting much stronger. Slowly and surely it's getting better."

Whitney has yet to play this season. He underwent surgery in August to correct a left foot deformity that limited his productivity all of last season.

With no set return date, Whitney said yesterday rejoining the lineup in December remains "the goal," and he would not rule out playing in early-December.

Scuds tough

Defenseman Rob Scuderi played last night - a pleasant surprise after he left a game Tuesday at Detroit with an injured left foot.

Scuderi's skate absorbed a hard shot from Detroit defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom in the first period of that game. Many of his teammates feared the worst, but Scuderi participated in the morning skate yesterday and teamed with defenseman Hal Gill for regular shifts against the Flyers.

Ratings record

Cable network Versus matched its best rating for an NHL broadcast with a .5 household share Tuesday for the Penguins-Red Wings game. That share equated to 364,645 homes in the United States with a television tuned to the game.

The household rating in Pittsburgh was 5.8, making Versus the top-rated local cable network Tuesday from the 7-9:45 p.m. block.

All ratings are verified by Nielsen Media Research.

Versus is experiencing improved ratings in its fourth season as national cable rights holder for the NHL. Through six weeks, the network claims gains in household impressions (plus 7 percent) and total viewership (up 14 percent) from the same period last season.

Around the boards

Tickets remain available for the Pittsburgh College Hockey Showcase at Mellon Arena tonight. Robert Morris will face Ohio State at 8 p.m. General admission tickets, available at Ticketmaster outlets and Mellon Arena Gate One box office, are $10. Youth players age 14 and under who wear team sweaters can buy tickets for $8. ... General manager Ray Shero and his wife, Karen, will serve as honorary co-chairs for the National Aviary's official penguin exhibit groundbreaking today. The event will promote a $1.7 million "Penguin Point" outdoor exhibit scheduled to be completed in late spring 2009.

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