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Penguins notebook: Ian Cole returns to lineup 10 days after mouth injury

Jonathan Bombulie
| Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017, 1:33 p.m.
Penguins defenseman Ian Cole gets helped off the ice after being hit in the mouth by a shot against the Predators Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017 at PPG Arena.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Penguins defenseman Ian Cole gets helped off the ice after being hit in the mouth by a shot against the Predators Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017 at PPG Arena.

NEW YORK – Ten days after a Roman Josi shot hit him directly in the mouth, defenseman Ian Cole was back in the lineup for the Penguins on Tuesday night.

Playing against the New York Rangers, Cole started the game skating with Justin Schultz on the second defense pair. The Penguins made room on the roster by placing Matt Hunwick on injured reserve with a concussion.

The Penguins also cleared an additional roster spot when they returned defenseman Chris Summers to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Tuesday evening. Summers was called up when Cole was injured.

Cole played with a hybrid face shield with a plastic visor on the top half and a metal cage on the bottom half.

“It's a little bit of maybe visibility difference, but it's not that big of a deal,” Cole said. “You shouldn't be looking down at the puck too much anyway, ideally. There might be a time or two where you might lose the puck for a second, but hopefully those times are few and far between.”

Teammate Brian Dumoulin played 13 games with full facial protection last season after breaking his jaw when he took an Andy Greene shot to the face in a game against New Jersey on Dec. 27. He wasn't able to go back to a half shield until the outdoor game against Philadelphia on Feb. 25.

Dumoulin's advice for Cole on playing with the full shield?

Grin and bear it.

“It's not ideal. It's just something you have to deal with,” Dumoulin said. “It's precautionary, but I was very happy when I got that thing off.”

Dumoulin said he wasn't too apprehensive about standing in front of shots again after the injury healed.

“Maybe a little bit,” he said. “You're still thinking about what happened, but at that point, it's just instinct. You go down and try to block a shot just like you normally would. Instincts take over.”

Dr. Dad

Cole, who lost three teeth thanks to Josi's shot, said some advice he received from his father ran through his mind during his recovery.

“The one thing he's always told me is to make sure I wear my mouthguard because I have really nice teeth, not to get them knocked out,” Cole said.

That's advice any hockey parent might give, but it carries a little extra weight coming from Cole's father. He's a dentist.

“He's been great about it,” Cole said. “He's been asking a lot of questions and asking me to ask questions for him. Our doctors here have had great answers. It's been great.”

Back to work

Less than two weeks into his return from April neck surgery, Kris Letang is back to his old workload.

Coming into Tuesday's game, Letang was one of 10 NHL defensemen averaging more than 26 minutes of ice time per game this season. He's averaged between 24 and 27 minutes of ice time each of the past seven seasons.

Letang said the next step is playing at a peak level of exertion on every shift.

“If you play 28 minutes, but there's five shifts in the game that you're kind of saving energy, I don't think you're as effective,” Letang said. “You want to be all out and help your team to win.”

Kessel's campaign

Penguins winger Phil Kessel is working with health insurance company Cigna on a campaign encouraging people to visit their doctor for regular check-ups.

In a 30-second video released Monday, Kessel discusses how a doctor's visit helped provide a timely diagnosis for his testicular cancer in 2006.

“If I never visited the doctor, you never know what would've happened,” Kessel said in the video. “Preventive care is huge.”

Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at or via Twitter at @BombulieTrib.

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