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Penguins notebook: Letang still not cleared to play

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Monday, Oct. 14, 2013, 5:15 p.m.

Kris Letang practiced with the Penguins again Monday, but his season debut likely will not take place against the Oilers at Consol Energy Center on Tuesday night.

“Kris is still in the process of getting back to playing, and this was another step,” coach Dan Bylsma said. “He needs to continue to progress to move toward a game.”

Letang (lower-body injury) participated in 30 minutes of practice, and he did not work with a specific defense partner. The pairings were Matt Niskanen and Rob Scuderi, Brooks Orpik and Paul Martin, and Olli Maatta and Robert Bortuzzo. Letang has practiced twice since he was injured Sept. 27.

• The Penguins practiced with only 11 forwards because of injuries to wingers Beau Bennett and Matt D'Agostini (both lower body) and James Neal (upper body). Bennett is day-to-day and D'Agostini should return to practice next week, Bylsma said. Neal is week-to-week. If Bennett cannot play against Edmonton, the Penguins could open up a roster spot by placing Neal on the injured-reserve list retroactive to Oct. 4. The Penguins will need to free a roster spot to recall a player from AHL affiliate Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. “Probably we'll be looking at more than something just a bottom forward to call up, so that they can play a pretty big role for our team,” Bylsma said.

• DefensemanDeryk Engelland took line rushes with center Joe Vitale and winger Dustin Jeffrey. CenterBrandon Sutter practiced with Tanner Glass and Craig Adams as his wingers. Glass and Adams are regularly fourth-line players, though they have combined for four goals in five games. Bylsma said the fourth line, which has also included Vitale, has been the Penguins' “most effective.”

• Captain Sidney Crosby was named the NHL's third star for last week. He produced three goals and seven points in four games. His eighth hat trick fueled the Penguins' win at Tampa Bay on Saturday. Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury was the NHL's third star for the first week of the season.

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