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Penguins defenseman Lovejoy resumes full workload

Chris Harlan
| Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Injured defenseman Ben Lovejoy has recovered from knee surgery faster than expected and might rejoin the Penguins lineup shortly.

"Things are feeling good," Lovejoy said after Monday's practice, his first full workout with teammates since a March 25 injury. "I'm excited to be back out there and practicing. This was another step today, and hopefully I can be a factor in this series."

Lovejoy had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee two weeks ago today for an undisclosed injury suffered against the New Jersey Devils. Initial estimates said he'd need three to four weeks to recover, but Lovejoy said he's ahead of that schedule. He was cleared for full practice yesterday and had been skating alone since at least last week.

"This is where I expected to be," Lovejoy said. "The doctors were very positive right away."

The 6-foot-2, 215-pound defenseman has played only 34 games and was a healthy scratch at times but would be a significant addition for a team uncertain about its sixth defensive spot. Matt Niskanen skated alone yesterday but has not practiced since an April 3 upper-body injury. With Niskanen and Lovejoy injured, the Penguins have used rookie Brian Strait.

> > The lower-body injury that forced right wing James Neal to miss the past two games won't be a lingering issue in the playoffs, he said after practice.

"It's behind me," Neal said. "I had a good week of rest. That's what I needed. I'll be ready to go and 100 percent."

He said the injury was not related to his April 3 fight in Boston, his most recent game. Neal is second on the team in goals (40) and points (81).

> > Continuing a tradition started in 2008, the Penguins will allow ticketless fans to watch the team's home and road playoff games on a large video screen erected outside the arena. The 16-foot by nine-foot high-resolution LED screen sits in the parking lot of Epiphany Catholic Church and faces Consol Energy Center's lawn.

> > Sidney Crosby was named as the NHL's third star for the week ending April 8. In three games, Crosby had three goals and three assists.

> > Steve MacIntyre was re-assigned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. The 31-year-old forward was called up before Saturday's finale against the Flyers.

> > Only Niskanen (upper-body) and left wing Matt Cooke (maintenance day) did not participate in Monday's practice. Cooke would return Tuesday, coach Dan Bylsma said.

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