For Paul Martin, the prognosis could be pretty clear in a few days.
For Kris Letang, the uncertainly figures to linger for quite a while.
Neither defenseman dressed for the Penguins' game against Los Angeles Thursday night at Consol Energy Center -- Martin missed his 15th game in a row because of a broken hand and Letang sat out his 20th in a row because of a stroke -- and it's not known when either will rejoin the lineup.
Martin, though, could get a pretty good idea as early as this weekend, because his injured hand is supposed to be X-rayed then. What the X-rays show will dictate the next step in Martin's recovery.
Letang and Martin, along with goalie Tomas Vokoun (blood clots), worked out on the ice with conditioning coach Mike Kadar and goalie coach Mike Bales before the game-day skate.
Letang also participated in the game-day skate, but said afterward there is no obvious way of deciding when he might be able to resume playing.
"I would relate it to a concussion," he said. "Even if you're cleared [medically], you might still have some symptoms. You don't want to go out there if you don't feel comfortable. I'm kind of in that process.
"We're still answering questions. I have a lot of questions for the doctors. They still have a lot to think about."
Although Letang hasn't suffered any significant setbacks, he is aware that one is possible at any time.
"[Doctors] told me even if I go out there and skate, maybe tomorrow I'm going to go out there and feel like [crap]," he said. "They said it's going to be a long process.
"They said maybe you're going to feel good for two weeks and, after that, have another [decline]. Everyone is different on how they recover from that. They said I will [most likely] recover 100 percent, but they're not sure about it.
"There are still many questions to answer."
Physical play works for L.A.
The Kings weren't just looking to tighten their grip on third place in the Pacific Division last night when they took on the Penguins. They were trying to claim a piece of franchise history.
Los Angeles had won its previous seven away games, one shy of the team record set Dec. 18, 1974-Jan. 16, 1975.
Part of the reason for the success on the road is the rugged style the Kings play, regardless of the venue.
"[Physical play] is a big staple of the Kings' game," said Penguins defenseman Rob Scuderi, who spent the previous four seasons in Los Angeles.
"They're physical in the offensive zone. They're physical in the defensive zone when they have to be in there. It's a big part of their identity."
Bennett impresses Shero
Winger Beau Bennett, recovering from surgery to repair an injury to his hand/wrist, completed his three-game conditioning stint with the Penguins' minor league team in Wilkes-Barre and was recalled before the game. He did not play against the Kings.
Bennett had a modest impact on the score sheet with Wilkes-Barre -- he put up one assist in those three games -- but apparently made quite an impression on general manager Ray Shero when he went to Wilkes-Barre Wednesday to get a first-hand look at Bennett.
"Game reports from Mr. Shero aren't always as glowing as maybe a scout's might be, but he had a ton of good things to write about Beau's game [Wednesday] night," coach Dan Bylsma said. "How he played, his compete level, how he was on pucks. [Wednesday's] game, from Ray's report, was pretty glowing."
Bennett has missed the past 50 games.
Asked if he would consider giving center Sidney Crosby a game off to rest, Bylsma said: "I've never seen ... that work out too well with a player." ... Bylsma also said he would feel "comfortable" with having Jeff Zatkoff, the former Los Angeles prospect who started against the Kings, as Marc-Andre Fleury's backup during the playoffs.
Dave Molinari: Dmolinari@Post-Gazette.com and Twitter @MolinariPG.