Penguins Notebook: Orpik not quite ready to return

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Brooks Orpik, his right index and middle fingers taped together, said he has been medically cleared to return to the lineup for the Penguins, but he is not expected to play tonight in Philadelphia.

"Now it's just getting the timing back," the veteran defenseman said after his first day back at team practice Wednesday at Southpointe. "The conditioning's pretty good. So I've just got to get a couple practices in and get comfortable.

"It's really just taking hard shots and receiving hard passes, stuff like that. I haven't done any battling, so I don't know how that's going to be, but I think it's as expected."

Orpik said he also has to get past some lingering pain in his index finger, which was broken by a shot Feb. 23. Despite missing the past 11 games, Orpik ranks second on the team with 177 hits and fourth with 88 blocked shots.

Cooke excused

Winger Matt Cooke did not practice, even though he is eligible to do so. He was suspended Monday by the NHL for the final 10 games of the regular season plus the first round of the playoffs after he hit Ryan McDonagh of the New York Rangers in the head with his elbow Sunday in a 5-2 loss.

"Matt Cooke has been given a few days away from the rink and will return to practice later on in the week," coach Dan Bylsma said, adding that the move is "just to take a moment, clear his head, get a chance to be away from the rink before he returns to the team."

Power search

The Penguins spent more time than usual at practice working on the power play, which is 0 for 11 in the past three games, 1 for 34 in the past nine games and 2 for 48 in the past 14.

The top unit had defensemen Kris Letang and Paul Martin on the points with forwards James Neal, Chris Kunitz and Tyler Kennedy. The second unit had defenseman Matt Niskanen and center Dustin Jeffrey on the points with forwards Alex Kovalev, Jordan Staal and Pascal Dupuis.

"Those are the two units we're going to see [against Philadelphia]," Bylsma said. "We need to execute better."

More injury updates

Centers Sidney Crosby (concussion) and Mark Letestu (undisclosed, possible shoulder injury) had individual, full-gear sessions on the ice with conditioning coach Mike Kadar before practice.

Letestu is considered day to day but did not travel to Philadelphia.

Of Crosby, Bylsma said, "He sweated. He's putting in significant workouts, but he's not to the point where he's ready to progress."

He added that Crosby's workout routine is determined each morning.

Forward Mike Comrie continues to practice with no problems. Next week will mark three months since he had surgery on his right hip.

"The muscles around it have to be strong," Comrie said. "Every day it feels like it's getting a little better, but you have to wait until you're 100 percent."

Shelly Anderson: .


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