Things are not getting any sunnier for the Pittsburgh Penguins as the team reported Friday that forward Pascal Dupuis will need ACL surgery after his collision with linemate Sidney Crosby Monday night, possibly ruling him out for the remainder of the season.
Crosby was hipchecked by Ottawa Senators defenseman Marc Methot before Dupuis and Crosby made knee-to-knee contact. Dupuis then fell on Crosby’s skate as he crashed into the boards.
With a total of 210 man games lost this season, the Penguins have not been able to find a solid line combination where all three forwards remained healthy. Although this one may seem to hurt the worst for Pittsburgh seeing how Crosby, Dupuis and Chris Kunitz have anchored the top line the longest going back to 2011.
Now that trio is finally broken up for the first time since Crosby’s concussion, and with Evgeni Malkin still on the shelf with a lower body injury, the theme of the 2013-14 season comes back to play — who skates with who?
Head coach Dan Bylsma has no choice but to keep Crosby and Kunitz together. Once Beau Bennett returns to the lineup, he may take Dupuis’ spot on the wing next to those two. In the meantime, Joe Vitale will fill the void.
The second line could very much stay the same with Jussi Jokinen centering Chris Conner and James Neal. Brandon Sutter will remain the team’s third line center with Harry Zolnierczyk and Chuck Kobasew while Tanner Glass will return to the fourth line with Zach Sill and Craig Adams.
For the first time, I have stated that the Penguins look like a team who may not have to make any major trades at the deadline this year. But now that Dupuis could miss the rest of the season, GM Ray Shero may have to roll up his sleeves and shop for the same thing this team is in need of year after year: a top-six forward to play on the wing with Crosby.