Penguins notebook: Bennett praised for work ethic in minors
The report on Beau Bennett's performance during his conditioning stint with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton was a “glowing” one.
And it came not only from the highest-ranking voice in the Penguins' hockey operations hierarchy — but also from, arguably, its most difficult one to please.
“Game reports from Mr. Shero aren't always as glowing as maybe his scouts' might be,” Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said, referring to general manager Ray Shero. “But he had a ton of good things to write about Beau's game (Wednesday) night — how he played, his compete level, how he was on pucks and playing and creating in that game.”
Shero took in Bennett's third and final AHL game as part of his three-game conditioning assignment. Although he had no points in the game — Bennett finished with one assist in the three games — Shero came away pleased with what he saw in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton's 2-1 home loss to Providence.
“The compete level and heart on puck and how he dealt with the injury was good,” Bylsma said, relaying Shero's assessment.
“His timing and getting back into playing and playing with the puck and playing in traffic, he was getting that back. ... Ray's report was pretty glowing.”
His conditioning assignment expired, Bennett was recalled by the Penguins on Thursday afternoon. He was not, however, added to the active roster. With the Penguins also playing Friday night in Columbus, that spared Bennett from playing in games on three consecutive days in three cities.
Bennett has missed the past 50 games because of a broken wrist. At the time of his injury Nov. 12, he was the right wing on the Penguins' top line.
Bylsma on benchings
Bylsma estimated that he has temporarily benched players “five or six” times this season for on-ice transgressions during games.
Winger Jussi Jokinen did not take a shift for a span of eight minutes after taking an offensive-zone slashing penalty during the second period of the Penguins' loss to the Phoenix Coyotes on Tuesday.
Bylsma said that, in most instances, fans and media don't notice that sort of discipline.
Bylsma maintains he treats all players the same after certain mistakes he believes deem punishment. Later in Tuesday's game, Sidney Crosby and James Neal each took offensive-zone penalties. Fouls of that sort have become a trend bothering the Penguins in recent games.
“Is it harder (to bench a star player)? It's different,” Bylsma said. “Jussi's seven minutes, it might be three shifts for another guy, it might be the rest of the period for another player.”
Letang taking his time
Two days after defenseman Kris Letang told the Tribune-Review that his return to game action was his call, Bylsma confirmed the team is not immediately awaiting any sort of formal physicians' approval or clearance for Letang in his recovery from a stroke eight weeks ago.
“It's not a next-step or a passing of anything for Kris at this point in time,” Bylsma said. “He's going to continue to practice, and we'll go forward from there.”
Letang has been practicing with teammates. He said Thursday he “misses (playing) a lot” and that it's “frustrating” not being able to play. But he also wants to be smart; if he doesn't feel right during or after a practice, he'll skip the next one, he said.
“I wish I could be out there tonight and be playing,” Letang said. “Maybe there'd be no problem. But I want to make sure I'm 100 percent comfortable out there and having several weeks that I feel really good.”
Around the boards
Injured defenseman Paul Martin resumed skating Thursday on his own before the team morning skate. Bylsma reiterated that Martin will undergo an X-ray this weekend to determine the healing process on his broken right hand. … Bylsma termed the accomplishment of a player appearing in all 82 of his team's games as “not meaningful,” but lauded Crosby for playing in all 73 of the Penguins games so far. In addressing the idea of his captain sitting out a game prior to the playoffs to keep him fresh, Bylsma said, “I don't see him wanting to take a game off”. … After appearing in 12 of the past 13 games, defenseman Simon Despres was a healthy scratch against the Kings. Deryk Engelland played for just the second time in the past six games.