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Phil Kessel, Derick Brassard sit out Penguins practice

Jonathan Bombulie
gtrkesselgallery04
Chaz Palla | Trib Total Media
Penguins forward Phil Kessel during practice Monday, Nov. 16, 2015 at Consol Energy Center.

Derick Brassard and Phil Kessel did not practice Tuesday morning as the Penguins prepared for the final two games of the regular season.

Brassard has missed the last three games with a lower-body injury. Coach Mike Sullivan said he’s making progress but has not yet resumed skating.

Kessel hasn’t missed a game, but he’s been hobbled by a lower-body injury of his own. Sullivan said he had the day off for maintenance.

Sullivan didn’t specify the status of either player for Thursday night’s game in Columbus.

The Penguins are at a point in the season where lineup decisions about players dealing with injuries become more complicated.

Thursday’s game is a big one. It could go a long way toward deciding which team earns second place in the Metropolitan Division and the home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs that comes with it.

The playoff opener a week or so later, however, is an infinitely bigger game.

“I think it depends on what the stakes are what’s on the line and how injured a guy is,” Sullivan said. “I mean, there isn’t a guy in there right now that’s not nicked up. That’s the reality of the business we’re in. You can go, to a man, every guy in there has bumps and bruises. It’s a belligerent game. We all go through that throughout the course of the season. We’re no different than any other team.

“I think it just boils down to trying to manage all our nicks and bumps as best we can. If we think it makes sense to hold a guy out to recover for whatever’s in front of us, then we do that. If we don’t, and we think that he’s a guy that can help us win and play under the circumstances, then we’ll make those decisions accordingly.”

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

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