Penguins notebook: Oft-injured forward Beau Bennett getting closer to return
January 10, 2016 12:00 AM
The Penguins' Beau Bennett celebrates a goal against Minnesota in November at Consol Energy Center.
By Dave Molinari / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
MONTREAL — Beau Bennett missed his 12th consecutive game when the Penguins faced Montreal Saturday night at Bell Centre.
And he will sit out at least a few more before getting back into uniform.
“From my understanding, he’s on time with that [recovery] process,” coach Mike Sullivan said Saturday. “He’s making progress. … I don’t think he’s far off, but he’s not to the point yet where he’s a day-to-day decision.”
Bennett suffered an undisclosed injury Dec. 14 against Washington, Sullivan’s first game as coach.
The initial prognosis was that he would be out 4-6 weeks and that apparently hasn’t changed, although Sullivan said he is reluctant to establish time tables for injured players to return.
“You set yourself up for disappointment, because everybody reacts differently to injuries,” he said. “The doctors give us a ballpark [estimate] of when they think guys will be back, but I try hard not to be too specific because everybody reacts differently.”
Bennett, whose career has been disrupted by a series of injuries, has five goals and five assists in 24 games this season.
No time to waste
Penguins winger Bryan Rust has bounced between the NHL and the Penguins’ American Hockey League affiliate in Wilkes-Barre a few times, so he didn’t anticipate any major problems adapting to the pace of play against the Canadiens.
“You can’t take too much time to make that transition,” said Rust, who was call up Friday from the Baby Penguins. “Hopefully, maybe not even a shift. … It’s not a huge adjustment, because I’ve been here before.”
Rust said that while he tries to keep his basic game the same, regardless of the league in which he’s working — “I try to keep my game the same, try to be a straight-line player,” he said. “Use my speed as much as I can and take as many pucks to the net as I can” — he tends to be a bit more cautious in the NHL.
“Maybe down there I’ll try a few more plays that might not be safe up here,” he said. “But that kind of comes with confidence.”
And, while he tries to play the same game in both leagues, Rust said there are differences between the two that can’t be overlooked.
“In the American League, if you make a turnover, you can get back in time,” he said. “There’s a little more time to make up for your mistakes.
“Up here, if there’s a turnover, it’s going the other way, and you to have bury your head and go 100 miles an hour on the backcheck.”
Paying the price
The Penguins would like to get Bennett back as quickly as possible, of course, but he wasn’t the most significant player to sit out Saturday.
Montreal goalie Carey Price, who won not only the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s best goalie but the Hart Trophy as its most valuable player in 2014-15, missed his 20th game in a row because of an unspecified injury.
Price is 10-2 this season, but hasn’t played since Nov. 25. That might help to explain why, in December, the Canadiens lost 11 games in a calendar month for the first time in their 98-year history.
“Take the best player from last year away, and it’s going to affect any team,” Penguins left winger Chris Kunitz said. “Especially a goaltender who brings such confidence.”
Dave Molinari: email@example.com and Twitter @MolinariPG.
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