Well, things just seem to be getting worse for the Pittsburgh Penguins. After their attempt at adding certain pieces they were missing last season, those key players are dropping like flies.
Just a few days after the Penguins announced defenseman Rob Scuderi suffered a broken ankle and will be sidelined indefinitely, forward Chuck Kobasew has been ruled out for 3-4 weeks with a lower-body injury. Kobasew suffered the injury in the first period in Carolina Monday night.
This just adds to the list of players who are missing in action. Aside from Scuderi and Kobasew, Pittsburgh is still without forward James Neal (upper body), forward Beau Bennett (undisclosed) and goaltender Tomas Vokoun (blood clot in pelvis).
General manager Ray Shero and head coach Dan Bylsma already look like geniuses after making the decision to keep defenseman Olli Maatta at the NHL level last week. With Scuderi out, Maatta will be the starter on the third unit opposite to Robert Bortuzzo or Deryk Engelland depending on the matchup. This will allow Matt Niskanen to move up to the second unit to play with Kris Letang.
Center Brandon Sutter did not participate in practice on Tuesday, and it is now uncertain if he will play against the Bruins either. If Sutter cannot go, it will probably force Bylsma to place Jussi Jokinen back into the center position on the third line.
Questions will surround Bylsma going into Wednesday’s game as to who will play on the second line with Evgeni Malkin, who has already been playing without his favorite linemate Neal. In recent games, Malkin has been paired with Kobasew and Jokinen, with Matt D’Agostini also in the mix. All of this comes just a day before the Penguins square off against the Boston Bruins on Wednesday.
Any depth that the Penguins had going for them is dwindling by the day. Not that Wednesday’s game against Boston is a must-win, but it could be a huge confidence booster for a team that is decimated with injuries.
Looking into November, nine of the Penguins’ 15 games are on the road, including four back-to-backs. With all of the injuries, one must think Shero is considering a deal to add some offense after a three-game skid where Pittsburgh scored just four goals.