Penguins excuse Cooke from practice, Philadelphia trip

| Thursday, March 24, 2011

• The Penguins excused suspended left wing Matt Cooke from practice Wednesday, and he was not required to accompany the team to Philadelphia for a game tonight against the Flyers. The team has opted to give Cooke a few days away. "Just to take a moment to clear his head," coach Dan Bylsma said. Cooke is suspended by the NHL for the rest of the regular season and Round 1 of the Stanley Cup playoffs — supplemental discipline for his elbow to the head of New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh on Sunday.

• Defenseman Brooks Orpik resumed practicing with teammates yesterday for the first time since his last game Feb. 23. Out since with a broken right finger, Orpik traveled with the Penguins to Philadelphia but said he will not play against the Flyers. That will mark his 12th consecutive game missed. He has been cleared by team doctors and could resume playing next week. At this point, he is trying to establish a level of comfort in gripping his stick. "It's my top hand, so holding the stick is a little bit tougher; but it's really just taking slap shots and receiving hard passes, stuff like that," he said.

• Left wing Eric Tangradi practiced with teammates for the first time since Feb. 11, when he was concussed by an elbow to the head from New York Islanders forward Trevor Gillies. Tangradi must improve his conditioning before he can return to the lineup, Bylsma said.

• Center Mark Letestu will miss a third straight game tonight because of an undisclosed upper-body injury. He worked with strength and conditioning coach Mike Kadar before practice yesterday, engaging in skill drills for stick-handling and shooting. Letestu is considered day-to-day.

• Center Evgeni Malkin is nine weeks into rehabbing his right knee, which required surgery to repair torn ligaments. He will not play again this season. Also, winger Nick Johnson is still experiencing concussion symptoms. There is no timetable for his return.

Additional Information:

Scouting report

Penguins at Flyers

7 p.m. today, Wells Fargo Center

TV/radio: FSN Pittsburgh/WXDX-FM (105.9 and the Penguins Radio Network

Season series: Penguins trail, 1-3-0. This is the fifth of six regular-season meetings, and the first since Dec. 14. The Flyers won that contest at home, 3-2. All three of the Penguins' losses have been by a goal.

Who to watch: Left wing Kris Versteeg snapped a seven-game goal drought Tuesday in a shootout loss at home to Washington.

Trends: The Flyers are 6-5-4 overall and 2-2-3 at home dating to Feb. 18. ... They are 3-5 in shootouts. ... Defenseman Sean O'Donnell is a minus-5 over his last 11 games.

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