If the Pittsburgh Penguins could have one wish going into the New Year, besides winning the Stanley Cup, it would be to stop their players from getting injured over and over again.
In Monday night’s game, the Penguins headed up North to take on the Ottawa Senators. When these two teams get together, the intensity just seems to grow with every period these two teams play. Perhaps this began in 2007 when this current nucleus of the Penguins started their current playoff streak with stars like Marc-Andre Fleury, Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby. It also may have grown between the teams because of the injury that Erik Karlsson received courtesy of the skate of former Penguins forward Matt Cooke. Whatever the reason, these teams just flat out do not enjoy each other’s company.
In the first period of Monday’s game, the Penguins received even more bad news on the injury front. The Penguins’ top line of Crosby, Pascal Dupuis and Chris Kunitz were on the ice. On a rush towards the Senators’ net, Crosby was hip-checked into Dupuis. Crosby’s leg came up and crashed into the lower-body of Dupuis. Dupuis was helped off the ice by the training staff and did not return.
How much more of this can the Penguins take? They still have forwards Malkin, Tanner Glass and Beau Bennett out with injuries, not to mention how many of their blue line is also being nursed back to health.
However, even with all of these injuries, the Penguins are comfortably at the top of the Metropolitan Division, as well as controlling the top spot in the Eastern Conference. For each injury the Penguins are sustaining, up comes another youngster from their AHL affiliate and just seems to fit into the lineup, for the time being.
However, this injury is not just another injury to a defensemen or third-line forward. This is a guy who plays with the top player in the world, Crosby. Who will the Penguins get to replace him? Will the Penguins use a versatile player like Joe Vitale? Will they look to use someone with speed like Chris Conner, or will they just load up the top line and put All-Star forward James Neal with Crosby, at least until Malkin returns to the lineup?
These answers will have to be answered by Penguins coach Dan Byslma. Hopefully for the Penguins, the injury to Dupuis is not serious and he can return to the lineup after the Christmas break.