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Michalek, Strait inch closer to return for Pens

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By Josh Yohe
Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2011

Defensemen Zbynek Michalek and Brian Strait returned to practice Monday at Consol Energy Center.

Neither will be ready for game-action this week, but for a team so decimated by injuries, seeing two players approaching 100 percent health was encouraging.

"This was the first practice after a long time, and I felt good," Michalek said.

Michalek and defenseman Kris Letang were concussed in Montreal on Nov. 26. It was believed that Michalek's was the least serious of the two concussions, and he confirmed that his symptoms were only minor.

However, Michalek acknowledged that getting his first concussion was an eye-opening experience.

"I never had problems with my head before," he said. "You see so many head injuries in the league now. Now, I understand that it's not so easy to go through."

Michalek didn't sound terribly rushed to return to the lineup, and the Penguins are being especially cautious with concussion victims this season.

"I need a few more practices under my belt, and if I feel better and have no symptoms then I can think about coming back," Michalek said.

Michalek, who missed a month earlier this season with a broken finger, said that his primary concussion symptoms were a slight headache and dizziness.

Letang and defenseman Robert Bortuzzo remain out with concussions.

Strait injured his wrist in Minnesota on Oct. 18.

Park gets parked

Center Richard Park will miss four-to-six weeks with a foot fracture, which occurred during the Penguins' sublime 6-on-3 penalty-killing performance in the final 2:04 of regulation against Carolina on Dec. 3.

Park spent much of the recent road trip in Philadelphia and Long Island riding a stationary bike. He attempted to skate before two practices on the trip, but did not look comfortable on either occasion.

Staal questionable

Center Jordan Staal remains day-to-day with a lower-body injury. His availability for Tuesday night's game against Detroit is unknown. He was injured in the third period against the Flyers on Thursday.

Special visit

The Penguins made their annual Christmas visit to Children's Hospital yesterday. Despite dealing with concussion symptoms, center Sidney Crosby made the trip.


Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury will attempt to secure his 200th career NHL win Tuesday night.

Additional Information:

Game info

Red Wings vs. Penguins

When/where: 7:05 p.m. Tuesday/Consol Energy Center

TV/radio: Root Sports/WXDX-FM (105.9), Penguins Radio Network

Last season's series: The Penguins went 2-0 against the Red Wings.

Notable: The Penguins won twice last season against the Red Wings without center Sidney Crosby, and will attempt to do so again Tuesday night.

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