Penguins coach Dan Bylsma used the same word to describe his two remaining injured players, saying they are "progressing," but he didn't sound overly optimistic that defenseman Alex Goligoski and winger Chris Kunitz will be back in the lineup imminently.
Neither played against the Colorado Avalanche last night at Mellon Arena.
Bylsma revealed that Goligoski did not aggravate his groin injury when he came back for a game Saturday against the New York Rangers but sustained a different injury. He did not say what the new injury is. Goligoski skated before the team's morning skate yesterday.
"There isn't a timetable on him yet, but he's positively progressing," Bylsma said.
Kunitz is not skating. He missed his 10th consecutive game because of an undisclosed injury that initially was supposed to keep him out two weeks after he had played with the injury for some time. He hasn't played since Nov. 12.
"He is progressing, but it's a situation where we don't want to [regress]," Bylsma said. "We want to keep going forward and be cautious. We have to keep in mind that we have 40-plus games to play yet this year. We're taking it slow with him."
Penguins forward Mike Rupp hasn't just set a career high in goals already -- he had eight in 28 games going into last night -- but he also has done it while being selective, accurate or both.
With a 24.2 shooting percent, Rupp was second in the NHL before last night's games. News of that ranking amused and surprised Rupp, who is known much more for being big and rugged than for being prolific on offense.
"I've tried in practice to bear down on my shots and when they come, try to put them in the net," he said. "Fortunately, it's happened in the games.
"I don't really pay attention too much to that stat. I think I'm probably significantly lower in shots taken" than the other leaders.
That's not true. Rupp had his eight goals on 33 shots going into last night. The league leader, Colorado's David Jones (who is hurt) has 10 goals on 39 shots, 25.6 percent. Washington's Eric Fehr was third with seven goals on 29 shots, 24.1. The minimum shots to be considered in that category was 26.
Penguins assistant Tony Granato expresses no bitterness about being fired as head coach of Colorado after last season.
"I was there seven years, and had a wonderful time," said Granato, who split his time with the Avalanche between assistant and head coach.
"Last year was probably a year that was frustrating where things didn't go our way for different reasons, but if you look at the big picture, I really enjoyed my experience there."
Although Penguins assistant Mike Yeo did the bulk of the video scouting work for the game last night, Bylsma was able to tap into Granato's knowledge of Colorado.
"We kind of used two different sets of eyes to get the full picture," Bylsma said.
University of Denver goaltender Marc Cheverie is considered a candidate for the Hobey Baker Award, which goes to the top college player. He is 7-1 with a 1.62 goals-against average and a .946 save percentage.
Cheverie wasn't drafted by the Penguins -- Florida took him in the seventh round in 2006 -- but he has a strong link to them.
He and Penguins captain Sidney Crosby grew up in Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia.
"I heard he's doing well," Crosby said. "We played together growing up, so I'm really happy to see him do well."
Crosby initially wanted to be a goalie and played in the net regularly in pickup games with his buddies. He still does occasionally in the summer.
At the morning skate yesterday, Crosby was able to put his knowledge of goaltending equipment to use to help Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.
Fleury developed a problem with a strap near his right skate. After a few others took a look, and before Fleury went as far as summoning an equipment staffer, Crosby knelt in the crease, took off his gloves and fixed the problem.