Courtesy of Point Park University

Galchenyuk practices, but will he play?


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Alex Galchenyuk. - MATT SUNDAY / DKPS

CRANBERRY, Pa. -- Alex Galchenyuk did not look like a guy who hadn't practiced for a week, or was trying to shake off the effects of the unspecified injury that sidelined him for some of the final stages of training camp.

Indeed, he made it through the Penguins' 50-minute workout Wednesday with no apparent difficulty, let alone a significant problem.

"It felt pretty good," Galchenyuk said.

The issue now is whether he'll feel good enough to dress for the Penguins' regular-season opener against the Sabres Thursday at 7:08 p.m at PPG Paints Arena.

"I thought he had a good practice," Mike Sullivan said. "He reported to us that he felt strong. Obviously, we'll see how he responds overnight. I would imagine that he'll be a game-time decision."

Want a second opinion? Galchenyuk's take is pretty much the same as his coach's.

"We'll see how it responds in the morning," he said. "Then make a decision from there."

The prognosis is considerably less cloudy for Sidney Crosby, who was hobbled for a few days after being hit in the foot by a shot during the Penguins' preseason finale last Saturday.

"Sid is good to go," Sullivan said.

Evgeni Malkin, Galchenyuk's likely linemate, seems cautiously optimistic that the same will be true of Galchenyuk, although wishful thinking might be influencing his judgment a bit.

"He's OK, I think," Malkin said. "He skated very well today. I hope he plays. It's so much fun to play with him."

Getting clearance to play in the opener will be one thing. Getting his game back in sync after being away from practice for a week is another, although Galchenyuk doesn't seem to be concerned about any effects of the layoff lingering.

"I don't think it will take me that long," he said. "It's been pretty smooth. It's not like I missed any months, or anything like that. It won't take long."

Also Wednesday:

• The Penguins, as expected, recalled rookie defenseman John Marino from their farm team in Wilkes-Barre. He had been assigned to the Baby Penguins Tuesday. The move was made after they officially placed Bryan Rust on Long-Term Injured Reserve. Per NHL regulations, Marino actually made the trip to and from Wilkes-Barre when he was assigned to the Baby Penguins, then recalled. He said he made the trip in his own car, as opposed to having a driver take him back and forth, which "made it a little easier." Marino added that he spent Tuesday night in a Holiday Inn.

• Sullivan seems genuinely enthused about his team's potential, but acknowledged there's no guarantee the Penguins will live up to it. "I'm excited about the group," he said. "I told the guys that on the ice today. I think we have the opportunity to be a real competitive hockey team. But as I've always said to them, 'Nothing's inevitable. We have to go out and earn it now. We have to go out and earn it every day.'"

• The Penguins' roster, at least for now, consists of 12 forwards, two goalies and, most notably, nine defensemen, which is three more than teams generally dress for games. Finding enough work to keep them all happy can be tough -- much like it is when a team carries three goaltenders -- but Sullivan seems to feel the arrangement can be made to work. "It can be a challenge, but my approach with our guys has always been to just try to be straightforward with them and communicate to everyone where they stand and what our game plan is," he said.

• Malkin's take on the Penguins' approach to 2019-20: "We didn't play great last year, but it's a new season, a new challenge."

• Sullivan, on Marino, who secured his place as the biggest surprise of this camp by earning a spot on the major-league roster:  "He made an impression on all of us through his play. I thought he had a real strong camp and he deserves to be here."

• The Penguins' final practice of the preseason seemed a bit louder and more lively than most workouts, which probably reflected players' interest in starting to play games that will count in the standings. "I think everyone's real excited," Brandon Tanev said. "We've all put in a lot of work during the summer and throughout training camp, and everyone's excited to get the season started."

• Here are the personnel combinations the Penguins used in the practice:

Jake Guentzel--Sidney Crosby--Patric Hornqvist
Alex Galchenyuk--Evgeni Malkin--Brandon Tanev
Jared McCann--Nick Bjugstad--Dominik Kahun
Zach Aston-Reese--Teddy Blueger--Dominik Simon

Brian Dumoulin--Kris Letang
Jack Johnson--Justin Schultz
Marcus Pettersson--Erik Gudbranson
Juuso Riikola--John Marino/Chad Ruhwedel


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