Penguins notebook: Bennett skating, but no timetable for return

The Penguins' Beau Bennett keeps Paul Thompson at bay during a scrimmage on Friday, Sept. 13, 2013, at Consol Energy Center.
The Penguins' Beau Bennett keeps Paul Thompson at bay during a scrimmage on Friday, Sept. 13, 2013, at Consol Energy Center.
Photo by Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
| Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013, 8:48 p.m.

Very few Penguins practiced Thursday. Winger Beau Bennett was among that majority.

Bennett (lower-body injury) will miss his ninth and 10th consecutive games this weekend when the Penguins play a home-and-home series against Columbus.

He is unlikely to practice before next week, coach Dan Bylsma said.

“He's progressing,” Bylsma said.

Bennett was injured in a win at Tampa Bay on Oct. 6. He is skating on his own before team sessions, but a date for his return to games is not yet set.

The Penguins have played three complete games with at least two of their top three right wingers in the lineup.

James Neal (upper body) has missed 12 consecutive contests, and there is no prognosis for when he can resume practicing. Unlike Bennett, Neal is not skating on his own.

Neal was injured in a win over New Jersey on Oct. 3.

Coaching call

Matt D'Agostini was a surprise — and healthy — scratch against Boston on Wednesday night.

Bylsma called the move a “lineup decision” Thursday.

The Penguins again dressed Deryk Engelland, a defenseman, as a checking-line forward against Boston. Engelland, who played nearly seven minutes, is preferred by coaches to play against more physical opponents such as Boston.

Dustin Jeffrey also dressed against the Bruins. He was a healthy scratch for six prior contests.

D'Agostini has played in only two games. He began the season on the long-term injury list and missed the Penguins' opening 10 contests.

Real life

The Penguins welcomed a special fan to practice Thursday.

Monroeville's Matthew Jacko visited with players, including a private meeting with captain Sidney Crosby.

Jacko, 8, has been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. He is confined to a wheelchair, rarely speaks and is under hospice care.

The Penguins invited him to practice after learning that he dreamed of meeting Crosby.

At one point during their conversation, Jacko asked Crosby to spell out the word “image” then say “light bulb.”

Crosby played along, and while squatting with his hands over his head, Crosby said, “I am a GE light bulb” — laughing while Jacko smiled.

Around the boards

Only eight players practiced Thursday. … Rookie defenseman Olli Maatta on his first experience with the Bruins: “I felt more intensity than in the other games. That is a game you like to play in. It is something you want to enjoy.” … The Penguins will host the inaugural NHL Youth Cup from Friday-Sunday. The event features Triple-A youth programs affiliated with the Penguins, Flyers, Blue Jackets, Red Wings, Devils, Islanders and Capitals. Bladerunners-Harmarville, New Kensington's Pittsburgh Ice Arena and Shadyside Academy will host local games.

Rob Rossi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @RobRossi_Trib.

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