Coach Dan Bylsma seemed to want to make the point that it would be risky to read too much into Sidney Crosby, James Neal and Paul Martin skating before the Penguins practiced Monday at Consol Energy Center.
Even so, he couldn't resist pointing out that it was better than the alternative.
"It's definitely good to see guys on the ice and skating," Bylsma said, "versus not being on the ice and skating."
He added that getting on the ice with conditioning coach Mike Kadar "bodes well for their situations," but did not identify a target date for any of the three to return to practice, let alone rejoin the lineup.
Crosby, who has missed the past six games because of a fractured jaw, and Neal, who skipped the three-game road trip through the Southeast Division because of a concussion, had a fairly light workout with Kadar for roughly 35 minutes.
Martin, who is recovering from surgery to repair a broken hand, remained on the ice for about five minutes longer than Crosby and Neal.
None of those players spoke with reporters.
Bylsma characterized Crosby's time on the ice as a "foot in the water," as opposed to a full-fledged workout.
"He was just out for, basically, a skate," Bylsma said. "Get out there, a little bit of exercise, get on the ice. I don't think it was any strenuous exercise, at this point."
He noted that Neal is symptom-free -- it's hard to imagine he would have been allowed anywhere near the ice if that weren't the case -- and that there is no well-defined recovery period for a concussion victim.
Because Martin has been fitted with a protective covering for his surgically repaired hand and thus is able to skate, getting around the ice shouldn't be an issue once doctors clear him to play.
"I think his skating will be able to be at full speed as he progresses with [his recovery from] the injury," Bylsma said. "For him, it's just a matter of going through the time period, the healing process."
Dallas seemed ready to sacrifice what was left of this season when it traded productive veterans such as Brenden Morrow (Penguins), Jaromir Jagr (Boston) and Derek Roy (Vancouver) as the NHL trade deadline approached.
A lot of teams do that when they don't expect to qualify for the playoffs.
Far fewer react to having their lineup gutted by running off five consecutive victories, as the Stars had done before visiting Chicago Monday night.
Morrow, though, doesn't seem to be as shocked by what the Stars have accomplished lately as many outside -- and possibly, inside -- Dallas are.
"I don't know if 'surprised' is the word," he said. "I know there are a lot of guys there I'm happy for, that they're doing well.
"They deserve to get into the postseason and the fans expect to see it. It's kind of a good time for them, I guess, to get things started."
Evgeni Malkin, who sat out the 3-1 victory Saturday at Florida after aggravating an unspecified injury -- it is believed to be a shoulder problem -- participated in their workout Monday, but still is listed as day to day, Bylsma said.
Malkin, seemed optimistic about his chances of dressing for their game Wednesday night against Montreal at Consol Energy Center.
"I feel good," he said. "I have a little bit of an injury, but we still have time [before] the next game.
"I skated a little bit extra [Monday], and I'll skate [today] with the team, maybe [with my] line."
Although Malkin took part in the workout Monday, Jussi Jokinen filled his spot between Chris Kunitz and Jarome Iginla. The forward combinations wore color-coded jerseys, and Malkin was the only center or winger wearing black.
Malkin, the incumbent league MVP, is having a fairly lackluster season by his standards, with eight goals and 21 assists in 28 games, but offered an upbeat assessment of how it is going.
"I feel good, because we've played good," he said. "Maybe I haven't scored [as much as] before, [don't] have lots of points, but we look positive [for the] playoffs. We have a great team."
Dave Molinari: Dmolinari@post-gazette.com and Twitter @MolinariPG.