Brandon Tanev practices with Penguins, inches toward return for playoffs

May 7—The playing style and on-ice demeanor of Brandon Tanev suggest the appearance of a player who's difficult to hold back from taking the ice for each shift.

Now, imagine keeping Tanev out of games for more than a month.

But Tanev's measured, patient manner — in speaking with media of video conference call, at least — belies that of a man who's raring to get back on the ice for the Pittsburgh Penguins at all costs.

"When the opportunity comes, or if it happens, I'll just get out there and play the game that that I'm needed to play out there," Tanev said in an understated fashion after being a full participant at Penguins practice Friday.

"I'm starting to feel better, and it's nice to skate with the team. The team is playing really well right now. I'm looking forward to the next week working here in practice working with the guys."

Tanev has not played since April 3 because of an upper-body injury, missing the past 17 games. But despite taking in part — with no "no-contact" provisions — in Friday's practice in Cranberry, Tanev will not play in Saturday's Penguins regular-season finale at home against the Buffalo Sabres. Tanev remains on long-term injured reserve.

Sullivan said Tanev "continues to make progress" but indicated a full week of full practices will do Tanev good before being thrown into the cauldron of the Stanley Cup playoffs that will begin at some undetermined point more than a week from now.

Tanev did not take line rushes during a short and light practice Friday. Much more reserved when speaking with media than the wild abandon he plays with on the ice, all Tanev would allow is he's "hopefully back in time for the playoffs."

"When (Tanev) gets back in our lineup, we expect him to bring what he always brings, and that's a ton of energy and an edge to his game," Sullivan said. "I think his energy is contagious ... He has trailblazing speed, and he utilizes that in so many ways whether on the penalty kill or forecheck or how he gets to people.

"Tans is a real important player for us, part of the fabric of the identity or what we try to build in this group. And we try to utilize him in those situations where he can play to his strengths. We're looking forward to getting Tans back in our lineup. We know he makes us a better team."

Note: Sullivan said defenseman Mike Matheson (upper-body injury) skated before practice with skating and skills development coach Ty Hennes. Matheson will not play Saturday.

Keep up with the Pittsburgh Penguins all season long.

Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris by email at or via Twitter .