Yesterday Alex Goligoski missed practice, suspicions were raised that his status for tonight's game against Anaheim may be in question. Dan Bylsma said Goligoski was "banged up", and other reports said he might have suffered an upper leg injury against Boston.
In light of this, Pittsburgh has re-called defenseman Nate Guenin from Wilkes-Barre.
After signing with the Penguins in the offseason, Guenin became the third Pittsburgh native to join the Penguins organization in the last three seasons (Bill Thomas, 2008-09; Ryan Malone, 2003-08). Guenin, 26, is a Hopewell High School graduate and played one season (1999-00) with the Pittsburgh Hornets.
In his first 15 games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this year, Guenin has posted a plus-1 rating to go with his 22 penalty minutes.
You'll notice the press release didn't mention any points in the minors this season. That is not a mistake or omission, Guenin has no points and isn't considered a puck moving defenseman. Guenin has appeared in 12 NHL games over the course of the past few seasons, so at least he has a small bit of experience to draw from, if he's pressed into duty.
The Penguins will have to rely on guys like Mark Eaton and Martin Skoula to move the puck from the blueline, not their strong points. Still the best options of guys who will be in the lineup.
It remains to be seen how long Goligoski may be on the shelf or what exactly his injury is. If Goose can't go tonight, it'll mean four of the top six defensemen in the organization will be out with injuries.
However, reinforcements could be back soon:
- Sergei Gonchar has had his cast removed, is practicing regularly with contact now. He could be back in the lineup in less than two weeks.
- Kris Letang was said to be out for about two weeks with a bruised shoulder, and that was over a week ago. If he follows the rehab schedule of similiar injuries, he ought to be back on the ice soon, slowly progressing back towards the lineup.
- Brooks Orpik was injured almost a week ago and said to be out for about two weeks as well. In a few days one would have to believe he'll be back on skates too, getting back into gear to return, if he's responding well.
So help is on the horizon. It's not unreasonable to think in about two weeks time the Penguins could almost be at full strength defensively. You know, assuming no one else gets hurt.
Finally how cruelly ironic is it that the only two Penguin defensemen not to suffer injuries this season (Jay McKee and Mark Eaton) are the two rugged stay-at-home defensemen that were considered the most prone to being injured? Sometimes you just never know how things will shake out.
UPDATED: Goligoski did not take the morning skate, further questioning his status for tonight. Seems safe to assume he probably won't be able to go. Now the question is becoming "how much longer?".
Without Goligoski, here's how the defensive pairings will probably look like tonight. One NHL veteran on each pairing with one inexperienced callup.