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Notebook: Pens' Hossa expects to play against Rangers

By Keith Barnes
Sunday, March 30, 2008

It may not have been Mario Lemieux returning from retirement, but the much-anticipated pairing of center Sidney Crosby and right wing Marian Hossa brought a sellout crowd to Mellon Arena and the team's highest television ratings since the owner made his return Dec. 27, 2000.

And there were some anxious moments early in the third period when Hossa was hit from behind by New York Islanders left wing Sean Bergenheim. Hossa was helped off the ice and did not return. The Penguins officially termed it an upper-body injury, but the right wing was walking around the Penguins' dressing room after the game.

"Everything is fine," Hossa said Saturday. "I was just skating near our bench. I got hit from behind and I kind of lost control and I ended up on the ice."

Hossa took part in the team's practice yesterday at Southpointe and should play today against the New York Rangers at Mellon Arena.

"I'm feeling pretty good after the day off, and I'm just going to relax at home and I feel fine," Hossa said. "This was my morning skate, and I wanted to see how it feels, and so far, it feels good."

Hall getting closer

He may have been wearing the traditional yellow sweater signifying an injured player, but Adam Hall didn't avoid contact in his first full workout with the team in more than two months.

"It felt good out there," Hall said. "It was the first time back with all the guys, and it's so much fun out there that you don't even realize it."

Hall has been out of the lineup since leaving after the first period of the Penguins' 2-0 win Jan. 19 in Montreal. He later was diagnosed with a sports hernia and had surgery to repair it Feb. 27.

"It was one of those things where you really don't know at first and you play with it for a while and it just starts getting worse and worse," Hall said. "It's been feeling great for about two or three weeks, so it was great to get back out with the guys."

It was all yellow

Hall wasn't the only player in a yellow sweater. Right wing Kris Beech also was on the ice for another workout and, surprisingly, Jeff Taffe donned a canary-colored jersey. Technically, none of the three is actually injured, though both Hall and Beech are on injured reserve.

"Kris Beech is ready to play, but he's not going to play (today)," Penguins coach Michel Therrien said. "But it's certainly nice to see some of our injured (players) finally get back with us and be ready to play."

It's a much different scenario than the Penguins are used to after spending most of the season trying to fill in the gaps for their injured players. Taffe was benched after 44 games when defenseman Ryan Whitney was asked to play left wing on the third line. Decisions will have to be made in regards to Beech and Hall on when they get back in the lineup.

"We've got good depth all year long, and that's one of the main reasons why we've been able to maintain the quality of play," Therrien said. "There's always decisions to be made, and we're always going to make decisions for the best interests of this hockey team."



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