WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 20: Beau Bennett #19 of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates down the ice against the Washington Capitals at the Verizon Center on November 20, 2013 in Washington, DC.

Penguins’ Bennett heads to AHL on conditioning stint

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Beau Bennett has recovered from a hand/wrist injury that’s sidelined him since late November, but the road back to the Pittsburgh Penguins will go through AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

Bennett will spend “a few games” with the minor-league squad after he was sent down on a conditioning assignment.

“I’m just excited to play some games and get back into some action,” Bennett told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “It’s been a long time coming.”

Before the campaign started, Bennett was regarded as a potential top-six forward, but the 22-year-old has been limited to just 12 games. At this point he will probably serve in a depth role during the Penguins’ playoff run, but he would be capable of moving up if injuries necessitate it.

Meanwhile, defenseman Kris Letang, who suffered a stroke, is practicing with the Penguins, but isn’t expected to return in the near future.

“There are still some days I don’t feel quite right,” said Letang.

“On the ice, it’s fine. It’s more outside the ice that it’s a problem.”

Pittsburgh will play against Tampa Bay this afternoon.

Bruins list Chara on IR, for now

Zdeno Chara
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Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.

It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.

The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.

As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.

Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?

The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.

This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.

Kassian suspended without pay, placed in Stage 2 of Substance Abuse Program

Anaheim Ducks v Vancouver Canucks
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Zack Kassian may have avoided major injuries stemming from his Sunday car accident, but it likely sent the signal that he may need help.

The response: he was placed in Stage Two of the Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program (SABH) of the NHL and NHLPA on Monday.

According to the league’s release, Kassian “will be suspended without pay until cleared for on-ice competition by the program administrators.”

Speaking of being suspended without pay, here’s a key detail:

The 24-year-old ended up with a broken nose and broken foot from that accident. The 2015-16 season was set to be his first campaign in the Montreal Canadiens organization after a tumultuous time with the Vancouver Canucks.

Kassian spoke of becoming more mature heading to Montreal, but the Canadiens were critical of his actions, wondering how many wake-up calls someone can get.

In case you’re wondering about the difference between stage one and two: