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Penguins notebook: Sheary returns to practice as recovery from concussion continues

| Friday, May 5, 2017, 10:24 a.m.

Penguins winger Conor Sheary scans sports news on Twitter just like a lot of other American 20-somethings.

For much of this week, the diversion helped him keep his thoughts off of his recovery from a concussion he suffered Monday in Game 3 when he and Patric Hornqvist collided. It simultaneously reminded him that most Penguins fans and media also wanted to worry about someone else's head injury.

Overshadowed by the return of Sidney Crosby, Sheary happily rejoined the Penguins for practice in a full-contact capacity Friday at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex. The winger, who turns 25 in about a month, participated in all drills and was encouraged by his body's initial response to the workout.

Coach Mike Sullivan still classified Sheary as "day-to-day" rather than a "game-time decision" for Saturday's Game 5 at Verizon Center. Sheary made no guarantees but indicated his eagerness to try game-like activity.

"If I'm full contact, I want to be regular," Sheary said. "I think that's probably the toughest part of this injury is kind of getting over that hump and saying you're OK because you're constantly looking for symptoms, even if they're not there. I think mentally I just have to be prepared to play if I get that call."

He skated each day this week, despite his diagnosis. Familiar with the many cases in which players waited for days to even receive clearance to exercise, Sheary considered himself fortunate for the absence of a more significant interruption to his playoff routines.

"That was nice that I got to stay on the ice and didn't have to kind of lay low at my house," he said.

Murray gearing up

With an on-ice workout session that included several drills designed to test his lower-body flexibility and explosiveness, Penguins goalie Matt Murray took another step toward rejoining the team as a practice participant and gameday option.

Murray went through the workout under the supervision of goaltending coach Mike Bales. Medical staff kept an eye on the netminder's movements.

"He's progressing," Sullivan said. "We're encouraged by how much he's progressed here over the last couple of days. We still don't have a time frame for him yet, but we're certainly encouraged."

Murray aggravated the lower-body injury, which he likely initially suffered April 6 against New Jersey, during warmups before the Penguins playoff opener.

'Black Aces' unveiled

Most of the Penguins' 11 "Black Aces," otherwise known as the depth players kept around during the postseason for experience and potential call-up purposes, became known soon after Wilkes-Barre/Scranton's season ended with a Game 5 loss to Providence in the first round of the AHL playoffs. But when the Penguins made their official list known Friday, one non-WBS player name appeared, much to the satisfaction of the fan base.

Daniel Sprong, the 20-year-old winger and 2015 second-round draft pick, is among the Black Aces after a 2016-17 season with Charlottetown in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. He had 32 goals and 27 assists in 31 regular-season games and added nine goals and 11 assists in 12 playoff games.

Sprong, who appeared in 18 games early last season, rounds out an Aces list that includes goalie Sean Maguire; defensemen David Warsofsky, Derrick Pouliot, Cameron Gaunce and Frank Corrado; and forwards Dominik Simon, Tom Sestito, Jean-Sebastien Dea, Garrett Wilson and Kevin Porter.

Bill West is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at wwest@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BWest_Trib.

The Penguins Conor Sheary is helped off the ice while playing against the Capitals during game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals Monday, May 1, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins Conor Sheary is helped off the ice while playing against the Capitals during game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals Monday, May 1, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena.
Penguins goaltenders Matt Murray and Marc-Andre Fluery during practice for the Eastern Conference second-round playoff series against the Capitals on April 2, 2016 at the Capitals practice facility in Alexandria Va .
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Penguins goaltenders Matt Murray and Marc-Andre Fluery during practice for the Eastern Conference second-round playoff series against the Capitals on April 2, 2016 at the Capitals practice facility in Alexandria Va .
Penguins goalie Matt Murray sits on the bench against the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday, March 5, 2017.
Penguins goalie Matt Murray sits on the bench against the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday, March 5, 2017.
The Penguins Sidney Crosby full on practice Friday, May 5, 2017 at Mario Lemieux Sports Complex.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins Sidney Crosby full on practice Friday, May 5, 2017 at Mario Lemieux Sports Complex.
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