April 17, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang (58) and Montreal Canadiens center Jeff Halpern (24) chase a loose puck during the first period at the CONSOL Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Kris Letang Progressing; Neal Still Aching

 

Pittsburgh Penguins’ defenseman Kris Letang is reportedly making progress towards returning to the team, while forward James Neal is still nursing his ailment.

Letang, who was placed on injured reserve at the start of the season, has skated on his own in recent days and is reportedly accompanying the team to Florida this weekend.

Missing the first three contests due to a lower-body injury, it is unclear at this point as to whether or not Letang will play in one of Pittsburgh’s contests this weekend, but the fact he’s traveling to Florida leads us to believe he’s close to returning.

However, the Pittsburgh Penguins’ twitter handle tweeted out that head coach Dan Bylsma stated Letang must return to practice before he can resume playing in games.

Neal, on the other hand, is still feeling the pain from an upper-body injury he suffered before the start of the season.

Unable to practice over the past week, Neal had a quick skate Thursday, but there’s still no timetable as to when he’ll return to team practice.

Able to perform in Pittsburgh’s season-opener against the New Jersey Devils, Neal could only muster out 3:49 minutes of ice-time before exiting.  His departure was reportedly made in order to prevent him from aggravating his injury.

The Pens’ are doing just fine without the All-Star winger, as forwards’ Beau Bennett and Jussi Jokinen are creating sufficient chemistry on the second-line with center Evgeni Malkin.

Still, having Neal in the lineup is critical for the long-term.

Pittsburgh got the Panthers Friday, in Florida, at 7:30 p.m.

 

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