Penguins notebook: Bennett headed to AHL for conditioning
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Beau Bennett is ready to play — just not in the NHL.
Bennett, out since Nov. 22 recovering from a broken right wrist, will play for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the AHL starting Saturday night.
“The plan is for him to go to Wilkes-Barre and play a few games,” coach Dan Bylsma said after the Penguins practiced at Southpointe Iceoplex on Friday.
The AHL Penguins played at Syracuse on Friday night. They are at home against Utica on Saturday night, at Albany on Sunday and at home against Providence on Wednesday.
The NHL's labor contract with the Players' Association states that players on conditioning assignments can stay with an AHL club for no more than six days and play in up to three games.
Bennett returned to full practices March 9 after experiencing a setback near the end of his initial recovery. His injury required surgery, and Bennett was projected to play after the NHL's Olympics break in late-February.
Bennett has played in 12 games and scored one goal this season.
A skilled winger and the Penguins' first-round pick at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, Bennett is not expected to step into a top-six role, Bylsma has said.
Bennett was the right winger on the Penguins' top line, which includes captain Sidney Crosby at center and left winger Chris Kunitz, when he was injured. Lee Stempniak, acquired from Calgary on March 5, currently fills that spot.
Since debuting last season, Bennett has played on every line, also seeing time at his off-wing on the second line with center Evgeni Malkin and right winger James Neal. Bennett began this season as the third-line right winger.
The Penguins' ever-changing group of bottom-six forwards will look different again for home games against Tampa Bay and St. Louis this weekend. Forward Joe Vitale is out for those contests with an upper-body injury, Bylsma said Friday.
Vitale played in an overtime loss at Detroit on Thursday but only took 11 shifts — his low in as many games.
The Penguins should hit 432 man-games lost to injury after facing Tampa Bay at Consol Energy Center on Saturday.
Crosby and Kunitz did not practice Friday, although neither is expected to miss the Tampa Bay game.
Bylsma said they were given maintenance days, which often suggests a player did not take the ice because of an injury that is not or has not yet been diagnosed as severe enough to miss a game.
Aside from Vitale, Crosby and Kunitz, all available Penguins practiced.
NHL Player Safety fined Neal and Red Wings center David Legwand $5,000 apiece for infractions from Thursday night.
Neal cross-checked Red Wings winger Luke Glendening in the second period. He received a minor penalty.
Legwand hit Malkin with the butt-end of his stick in the third. He received a major penalty and a game misconduct.
Player Safety reviews all hits/infractions, and players are subject to supplemental discipline.
Around the boards
Two top Penguins prospects received Western Hockey League honors Friday.
Derrick Pouliot (8th overall, 2012) was nominated for Defenseman of the Year and selected as a first-team Western Conference All-Star. He has 70 points in 58 games for Portland.
Tristan Jarry (44th overall, 2013) was nominated for Goaltender of the Year and was selected a first-team All-Star for the Eastern Conference. He leads WHL goalies in wins (44), goals-against average (2.24) and shutouts (eight) for Edmonton.
Rob Rossi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @RobRossi_Trib.
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