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Penguins

Lovejoy Close To Returning

By: Chris Gates
(Photo Credit: Dale MacMillan/Getty Images)

(Photo Credit: Dale MacMillan/Getty Images)

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PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) — The Pittsburgh Penguins could potentially have defenseman Ben Lovejoy back and healthy tonight when Chicago visits the Consol Energy Center.

He surely would be a welcome addition.

The Penguins currently have defensemen Kris Letang, Zbynek Michalek and Robert Bortuzzo out with concussions. Additionally, defenseman Paul Martin left Friday night’s game at Ottawa with an undisclosed injury, leaving the Penguins with just three regular starters on the blue line: Brooks Orpik, Matt Niskanen and Deryk Engelland.

Simon Despres, Carl Sneep and Alexandre Picard have been called up from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to help fill the defensive void.

Lovejoy has been out since early November with a broken wrist and re-joined the team for his first practice Monday morning. He had his wrist taped and said it’s up to doctors to determine whether or not he can play.

If it’s up to Lovejoy, he’ll suit up for tonight’s game.

“My arm feels good. I think I’m ready to play,” Lovejoy said, according to the Penguins official website. “I’m out there battling. My strength is back. I felt great. I’m going to have it taped for a while, but I’ve been skating for five weeks now and I’m in shape and ready to go. Got to get a little timing back, but I felt great today.”

Lovejoy added that he’s hopeful he will return soon. Penguins coach Dan Bylsma echoed Lovejoy’s thoughts.

“The time he needs to be in practice is minimal compared to maybe someone who hasn’t been able to skate and do what he’s been able to do,” Bylsma said. “We’re hopeful that Ben’s going to get some action in before the break.”

Lovejoy has been involved in off-ice work with strength and conditioning coach Mike Kadar. Most of his work was skating and one-handed stick work until his broken wrist healed enough for him to work with two hands.

Lovejoy’s bone has fully healed and now it’s down to feeling comfortable on the ice and getting clearance from doctors to play.

“I’m dying to get back,” Lovejoy said. “Today, I don’t remember practice ever being so fun. After just skating by myself, with one other guy and Mike Kadar and our physical therapist, it was a blast to have a goalie, it was a blast to pass to other players and be competitive again.”

Other injury news:

  • Bylsma said the statuses of Letang, Bortuzzo, Martin, Sidney Crosby and Richard Park have not changed.
  • Forward Dustin Jeffrey is starting up rehab on his surgically repaired knee and hopes to return to the ice soon.
  • Forwards Jordan Staal and Craig Adams did not participate in Monday’s practice but are expected to skate Tuesday. Bylsma listed both as day-to-day.
  • Michalek is cleared for full practice and is listed as day-to-day with (concussion symptoms).

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