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Kennedy could return to Penguins this week

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'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By Josh Yohe
Sunday, March 4, 2012

DENVER -- Right wing Tyler Kennedy participated in Saturday's morning skate and might be ready to return to the lineup this week.

Kennedy, who has six goals and 16 assists in 42 games, sustained a high-ankle sprain Feb. 5 at New Jersey and was expected to miss about a month. He also missed a month earlier this season with a concussion.

Kennedy and center Sidney Crosby took part in every team workout on the two-game road trip to Dallas and Denver, including a grueling 60-minute session after their teammates left the ice yesterday.

Crosby has not been cleared for contact. When he last spoke with the media -- on Feb. 17 -- Crosby said he still was suffering from occasional headaches.

Defenseman Kris Letang remained with the team but has not skated since sustaining a head injury in Dallas on Wednesday. Letang continues to deal with concussion symptoms and will be evaluated by team doctors when the Penguins return home today.

Vote of confidence

Left wing Chris Kunitz gave the Toronto Maple Leafs a vote of confidence for their hiring of coach Randy Carlyle.

Kunitz broke into the league in Anaheim and played for the 2007 Stanley Cup champion Ducks team that Carlyle coached. He said Carlyle isn't always easy to play for, but he saw the logic of Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke's decision to hire Carlyle.

"He is a coach who has a track record of winning," Kunitz said. "Those guys keep getting jobs because of the systems they put in and the job they do. I have to say 'thanks' to him. He gave me a chance to play in the NHL."

Kunitz admitted that Carlyle can be abrasive. Penguins coach Dan Bylsma is certainly more of a player's coach, Kunitz said.

"(Carlyle) is the opposite of the coach I have now," Kunitz said. "He demands a lot. He talks a ton on the bench. You can hear him on the ice."

All in the family

Colorado center Ryan O'Reilly, who leads the Avalanche with 50 points, is busy attempting to guide his team into the Stanley Cup playoffs.

However, he still has enough time to keep track of his brother.

Cal O'Reilly, who was signed by the Penguins in February and played in a handful of games before being sent to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, is in his third organization this season.

"It's been tough for him," Ryan O'Reilly said. "They've got so much depth down the middle in Pittsburgh, it's tough getting a spot there. But he'll keep working hard."

Sully good to go

Left wing Steve Sullivan had been questionable to play last night against the Avalanche because of a minor lower-body injury he sustained in Dallas. Sullivan did not practice with the Penguins on Thursday or Friday, but he took part in yesterday's morning skate and played against Colorado.

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