Beau Bennett Approaching Return at Just the Right Time


Those living in the Pittsburgh area who were watching the Penguins treat the Predators to 3-0 shutout on Saturday received some fabulous news during the broadcast. During the injury report, announcer Paul Steigerwald informed viewers that winger Beau Bennett was skating on his own. That same day, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that he was about one week away from returning from an undisclosed lower body injury suffered during training camp.

Head Coach Mike Johnston, clarified those comments during practice today, stating “Bennett will skate tomorrow morning. That will be his first practice with the group.”

Bennett is no stranger to untimely injuries, such as the broken wrist that he suffered last winter in a game against the Islanders. He knows that such ailments have wreaked havoc on his team before and that his injury was not the best omen for the start of the season.

Despite this loss, the Pens have looked strong through the early part of the season with a league-leading powerplay and several commanding victories. It was announced today, however, that the team will be losing Olli Maatta for up to four weeks. The 6’2″ Finnish defenseman has to undergo surgery to remove a tumor on his neck that may contain thyroid cancer.

Through the first seven games of the season, the 20-year-old Maatta has proved himself to be an enormous spark plug for the team. With one goal and four assists, coupled with an average of about 20 minutes of ice time per game, Maatta has provided an energy worthy of consideration for a position with the stellar powerplay squad. While Maatta recovers, it will be a tremendous boost for the team to have Bennett back in the lineup.

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Bennett has the skill, flair, and talent to make up for the absence of Maatta, while simultaneously improving the depth of the forwards. Without #19 in the roster, the Pens have been primarily utilizing winger Blake Comeau on the second line to compliment superstar center Evgeni Malkin and accomplished veteran Pascal Dupuis. While Comeau has performed well up to this point with four points across the seven games, he was not meant to be a top-six forward for the Pens. His style of play would be much better suited rounding out the bottom-six, possibly replacing either Zach Sill or, more optimistically though unlikely, Craig Adams on the fourth line.

Having Bennett return to force such a change would not only make the attack of the first two lines that much more potent, but it would also improve the stability and play of the grinders in the bottom two lines. With his impressive puck instincts, quickness, and wicked wrist shot, Bennett makes a formidable and much-welcomed addition to the lineup at this stage in the season.

The already dominant powerplay will only get stronger, the whole roster will see the depth it needs to stay afloat, and the Penguins will be able to string together a nice month of games until Maatta returns to the team. And once he is back, there is no telling what this team is capable of accomplishing.

In the meantime, check out what kind of magic the Pens can expect from Bennett once he returns to the ice.