Penguins notebook: Letang won't rush back from injury

| Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013, 6:48 p.m.

Defenseman Kris Letang isn't going to force his return to the lineup. When his body is ready, he will know.

Letang hinted that he would be playing if this were the postseason. But it's October, and he intends on making sure his knee is recovered completely before he plays.

“You can always try to play,” Letang said. “That's always an option. But it's not the right time in the season to not let something heal all the way.”

Letang made it through an entire team practice Wednesday for the first time since suffering the injury during a practice Sept. 27 at West Point. He reported no problems following the workout.

“I'm going one day at a time,” he said. “Getting to practice with my teammates is a good thing. I feel good right now.”

He likely doesn't feel well enough to play Thursday in Philadelphia, but Letang's return to the lineup doesn't seem far away.

Coach Dan Bylsma said he hopes Letang continues to let the injury improve. Letang is historically a fast healer, but Bylsma knows it's a long season and would rather have Letang in the lineup in April than October.

“Kris is a guy who wanted to play last week,” Bylsma joked. “You do have to be aware of the situation and when the best time to return is. Without (Letang having played) any games, he needs to see some pretty good practice time when he comes back.”

Letang, who has produced 80 points in his previous 86 regular-season games, has played a full 82-game season only once in his career (2010-11).

D'Agostini getting closer

Right wing Matt D'Agostini practiced for the first time since suffering an injury during the first week of training camp. He doesn't figure to see any game action for at least another week but was pleased to return to practice.

“It's a step,” he said. “As long as I feel good and healthy, I'll be out there with the guys, and then we'll go from there.”

The Penguins had D'Agostini penciled into the third line with center Brandon Sutter and winger Beau Bennett before the injury prevented D'Agostini from playing during the past month.

Bennett (lower-body injury) and right wing James Neal (upper-body injury) did not practice Wednesday. Neal isn't eligible to play until Oct. 28 at Carolina, and Bennett is unlikely to play Thursday.

Tardy practice

Practice started about 40 minutes late because Bylsma gave the Penguins an extensive video session from their game against Edmonton on Tuesday.

“Tense is probably too strong of a word,” center Sidney Crosby said of the video time. “We just went over things, making sure everyone knows what to do. It was just a little longer (than usual), trying to work things out.”

Olli OK

Rookie defenseman Olli Maatta left the ice for about 10 minutes during practice.

He later returned and said he was “fine” following the workout.

“Nothing to worry about,” he said.

Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @JoshYohe_Trib.

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