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PENGUINS CONTINUE TO WORK THEIR WAY BACK INTO SHAPE

Thursday, 02.23.2006 / 12:00 AM / Pittsburgh Penguins
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PENGUINS CONTINUE TO WORK THEIR WAY BACK INTO SHAPE

The Pittsburgh Penguins didn’t take the ice on Thursday, but they sure got a good workout.

The Penguins went through a series of off-ice physical tests to determine their fitness and strength levels. After a 10-day hiatus from practicing and playing together, everything went well.

“We did some running and some strength and power tests,” rookie Colby Armstrong said. “It was a quick run through of some things to see where the guys are. I think everyone did fairly well. It was a little nerve wracking coming back after being off for a while. I think everyone did well. I am more worried about trying to get back skating. That’s making me a little more nervous. It was pretty quick and mostly painless.”

Rookie Sidney Crosby said it was a difficult second day back from the Olympic break.

“It was pretty tough. I am not going to lie. It’s always tough when you get those tests, especially in the middle of the season when you don’t do as much as you would in the summer,” he said. “Things like running, you get used to skating and you get thrown into running and doing other exercises. I think it’s good, though. It gives us something to measure ourselves with. Hopefully, we can just improve on that and have something to build on.”

The Penguins won their last two games before the Olympic break – both on the road and in impressive fashion. They hope to build off the momentum gained with the victories in Carolina (4-3) and Washington (6-3).

“It’s good to be back. I missed all the guys,” forward Ryan Malone said. “We’ll have a few days of practice here and get back on track. We’re going to try and finish the season strong.”

The Penguins return to the ice Friday morning for more practice and they can’t wait.

“We just want to get our legs back under us and get back skating and get back going as a team,” Armstrong said.

Crosby enjoyed the rest, but felt out of sorts being away from his team.

“Just getting the routine – as a hockey player, you get used to a routine of your day. For the last couple weeks here, we haven’t had that much,” he said. “So, it will be nice to get back in the routine of things and be around the guys and hopefully get a strong finish to the season.”

The Penguins play again on Wednesday at home against Ottawa. They have some time to prepare themselves physically, but also get a chance to get their gear in order.

“I think guys are breaking in a lot of new equipment right now,” said Armstrong while taping the fingers back on a brand-new glove. “It’s kind of little over the halfway point and the time where guys have time to do that. I think everyone is trying out new things right now.”

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