ShareThis Page

Penguins notebook: Bennett improves skill level

| Saturday, March 29, 2014, 6:12 p.m.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Beau Bennett skates during practice Monday, March 17, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.

Forward Beau Bennett wasn't just strengthening his broken wrist and maintaining his physical condition during the past four months.

He was working on his skill level, too.

Bennett, who has worked extensively with strength and conditioning coach Mike Kadar since breaking his wrist Nov. 22 against the New York Islanders, was in strong form in his NHL return in Columbus on Friday.

He also was slicker with the puck than in previous games.

The Penguins made Bennett their top pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft because of his top-end skill, and it was on display against the Blue Jackets.

“I've been skating on my own and doing a lot of skill stuff with Coach Kadar,” Bennett said. “It has grown my game.”

Kadar made sure Bennett remained in top shape but also incorporated drills pertaining to the finer parts of hockey skill to keep Bennett in top form.

General manager Ray Shero offered a “glowing” review of Bennett's play during his rehab stint in Wilkes-Barre, coach Dan Bylsma said.

After the game in Columbus, Bylsma said it might have been the finest game Bennett has played in a Penguins uniform.

Bennett played a more physical brand of hockey than usual, but his passing and ability to weave around defenders was most noticeable.

“Man was he good,” center Brandon Sutter said. “He was ready to go. Very impressive.”

Rivalry born?

The Penguins have won six straight games against the Blue Jackets and swept the season series 5-0. So calling the teams rivals is a stretch.

However, there is a possibility they could meet in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. If that happened, Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury seemed to think it would be fun.

“The atmosphere in (Nationwide Arena) is awesome,” he said. “Half of the fans are cheering for them and half for us. It's great.”

Saad's Pittsburgh debut

Chicago Blackhawks forward Brandon Saad will play against the Penguins in Pittsburgh for the first time Sunday night. Consol Energy Center is the only NHL arena in which Saad hasn't played.

His family will watch Sunday's game in a private box.

Saad recently returned to the lineup after missing three games with a lower-body injury. Despite the games missed, Saad has recorded 19 goals and 44 points in 72 games.

No Kane

The Blackhawks won't receive sympathy from the Penguins regarding injuries.

After all, the Penguins are on track to become one of the most injured teams in NHL history and are approaching 500 man-games lost due to injury.

Still, an important member of the Blackhawks is out of the lineup.

Right wing Patrick Kane is out, likely until the playoffs begin, because of a lower-body injury. He had produced 69 points in 69 regular-season games.

Maatta likely back

Defenseman Olli Maatta, a healthy scratch against the Blue Jackets on Friday, is expected back in the lineup Sunday.

Bylsma emphasized after Friday's game that Maatta was a scratch because the coaching staff wanted him to get rest and that he was not being punished for poor play.

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

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.