Brassard, Kessel Miss Penguins Tuesday Practice

Thursday’s game against the Blue Jackets could very well decide home-ice advantage in the first round

Josh Rowntree
April 03, 2018 - 3:27 pm
Sheary, Brassard and Kessel celebrate goal

© Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

While getting ready for a showdown in Columbus Thursday, forwards Phil Kessel and Derick Brassard were both absent at Tuesday’s Penguins practice at PPG Paints Arena.

Kessel was given a maintenance day, according to coach Mike Sullivan. Kessel has played 690 consecutive games, but left Saturday night’s game against Montreal and, despite being in the lineup, was a game-time decision in Sunday’s loss to Washington.

Brassard, however, has missed the last three games with a lower-body injury. Sullivan noted that he is “progressing,” but added that he has not skated yet.  

With the playoffs beginning next week, Pittsburgh will likely need both key third line players healthy if they wish to make a run at a third straight Stanley Cup.

“There isn’t a guy in there right now that’s not nicked up,” Sullivan said. “That’s the reality of the business we’re in. Every guy in there has bumps and bruises.

Thursday’s game against the Blue Jackets could very well decide home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. So, while the ultimate goal is health for the postseason, the significance of the penultimate regular season game is palpable.  

“It’s a belligerent game,” Sullivan added. “We all go through that throughout the course of a season. We’re no different than any other team. I think it just boils down to trying to manage all of our nicks and bumps as best we can and if we think it makes sense to hold a guy out to recover for whatever’s in front of us, then we do that.”

Hear coach Sullivan's comments below: