Penguins notebook: Gibbons could return in Game 2
Penguins right wing Brian Gibbons confirmed on Saturday that he has been medically cleared to participate in games. He hasn’t played since sustaining an injury against the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game 2 of the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Gibbons scored two early goals in that game before departing with the injury.
“I’m feeling better in practice these past few days,” Gibbons said. “Whenever the time comes, I’ll be ready.”
Coach Dan Bylsma said during the Columbus series that it was likely the Penguins would find room in their lineup for Gibbons when he was able to play.
Gibbons admits he’s hungry for a return to the lineup.
“Anyone who isn’t playing for whatever reason,” Gibbons said, “wants to play.”
One of Gibbons’ goals against Columbus came on a shorthanded breakaway. His speed could give the Penguins something they’ve lacked most of the season — a threat to score while down a man.
“I don’t know if I’ve always been good at (killing penalties),” Gibbons said. “But I’ve always liked it. I killed a lot of penalties in college and at Wilkes-Barre. I take pride in it.”
Defenseman Brooks Orpik skated for the first time since leaving practice one week ago.
It remains unknown if he will participate Sunday in Game 2 between the Penguins and Rangers.
Orpik has missed the Penguins’ past three games, the first three Stanley Cup playoff games he has ever missed.
He participated in a light workout at Southpointe with about a dozen teammates. Per team policy, Orpik wasn’t permitted to speak with reporters following the workout because he technically wasn’t joining the team for practice, but was skating on his own to test the injury.
Orpik was seen on an exercise bike last week in Columbus, but the nature of his injury remains a mystery. In his absence, regular defense partner Paul Martin has skated with defenseman Kris Letang.
A number of Penguins have commented following playoff games this spring that the opposition was “more prepared” and “more desperate.”
This was the case after Game 1 against the Rangers.
One day later, one of the Penguins’ most intense players is hoping to see a change.
“It’s hard to say what the problem’s been,” defenseman Robert Bortuzzo said. “We are a team of guys who care about winning. That’s our top priority. It’s hard to pinpoint what (the problem is). But it wasn’t there. It should be this time of year.”
Taking it easy
The Penguins held a lightly attended optional practice at Southpointe.
Among players who played in Game 1 and who skated on Saturday included forward Craig Adams, goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and defensemen Bortuzzo and Olli Maatta.
Other players who participated included Orpik, defenseman Deryk Engelland, forwards Gibbons, Jayson Megna, Taylor Pyatt, Chris Conner, and goalies Tomas Vokoun and Jeff Zatkoff.