Penguins Notebook: Talbot says he's closer to playing

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Max Talbot didn't take part in the Penguins' practice at Southpointe Wednesday night.

There seems to be a pretty good chance that he'll sit out their workout today, too.

No surprises there. After all, Talbot has spent a lot more time healing and rehabbing than he has practicing and playing this season.

But Talbot, who sat out 10 of the Penguins' final 11 games before the Olympic break because of a groin problem, is optimistic that might be changing.

That, in fact, he could be back in the lineup when the Penguins face Buffalo Tuesday night at Mellon Arena.

"It's a possibility," he said. "If it's not Tuesday, it might be Thursday [at the New York Rangers]. But it's definitely in my reach."

Although NHL regulations prevented Talbot from skating during the break, he went on the ice by himself Wednesday and was pleased with how it went.

"I felt good, so that's progress," he said.

Talbot scored both of the Penguins' goals in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final, a high few players ever will know, but he has been limited to 28 appearances in 62 games in 2009-10 because of his groin injury and the recovery period that followed offseason shoulder surgery.

"Mentally, it's been tough this year, with the two injuries I've had," Talbot said. "It's been frustrating, but ... there are still 20 big games left and, after that, there's a whole other kind of season that I'm looking forward to."

Guerin keeps family first

Right winger Bill Guerin represented the United States in the past three Olympics and acknowledged that it is strange to not be involved this time.

He didn't have trouble finding ways to use his time off, however, with the centerpiece of the break a family trip to a warm-weather destination where there are beaches, not blizzards.

"To be honest, I haven't been following [the tournament] at all," he said. "I've been spending time with my wife and my kids, and doing things I don't normally get a chance to do.

"I'm interested, but this is my family time, and I'm not going to take time out of my trip or my time with my family to watch a hockey game."

Don't get the idea that he's bitter, though. He praised the team assembled by general manager Brian Burke, and said he wasn't surprised by Team USA's 5-3 victory Sunday against Canada.

"The group of guys they took over there, they're perfect for what they have to do," Guerin said. "[Burke] took every possible type of player you could imagine. But the best thing about the players he took is that they have a swagger, an attitude."

Shortage of players

With five players at the Olympics and Talbot and Eric Godard injured, the Penguins had just 15 players available for the practice, pressing video coordinator Jim Britt into service as a second goaltender.

The first post-break workout was dedicated mostly to getting players reacquainted with their equipment and how to use it -- "You just want to get moving and get acclimated," forward Mike Rupp said. "I don't think anyone felt good" -- and coach Dan Bylsma acknowledged that being so short-handed will have an impact on how practices are run the next few days.

"We're going to get to a workday [today] and we'll have to modify some of the drills based on the fact that they're going once every third time," he said. "It's going to be a lot like training camp. We had 15 or 16 guys on the ice for our 45-minute sessions."


For more on the Penguins, read the Pens Plus blog with Dave Molinari and Shelly Anderson at www.post-gazette.com/plus . Dave Molinari: dmolinari@post-gazette.com .


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