The Penguins held a sparsely attended optional practice today. The most intriguing player on the ice is one coming back from injury.
Carl Hagelin on the ice, wearing a normal sweater. Assuming he takes full contact, good chance he plays in Game 4.— Jason Mackey (@JMackeyPG) May 2, 2018
After practice it was disclosed that Hagelin did not take contact, but then again at an optional practice it’s not like there was much contact to be had.
It’s no secret right now the biggest problem facing the Pens (y’know, within the sport of actually playing hockey) is secondary scoring.
The good news is that Jake Guentzel, Sidney Crosby and Patric Hornqvist are red hot and lighting up the score board.
The bad news is in the last five games, those three players — plus Kris Letang who scored while they were on the ice — have been responsible for the entirety of the team’s scoring, save a goal by Hagelin and two by Bryan Rust (one into an empty net).
Hagelin is reported to have stitches in his face/mouth area after getting drilled in the Philly series. He isn’t a huge goal producer but certainly will add an element of speed to the team and Hagelin+ Evgeni Malkin were gelling well together on the ice in the Philly series.
There of course is now a hole on the left wing with the injury to Zach Aston-Reese out with a broken jaw/concussion.
In order to fix the depth scoring, you have to turn to the most important players. That would be Malkin and Phil Kessel. Both Malkin and Kessel have played extremely well in the past (together and separately) when Carl Hagelin has been with them. Create that as a second line, and one would have to feel better about it.
For those hoping for Daniel Sprong, hope is all you’ll get. He didn’t skate with the NHL players this morning and doesn’t appear very high on coach Mike Sullivan’s radar to get into the games anytime soon.
Still, the Pens would have Rust, Derick Brassard and Conor Sheary to be able and create a fast and skilled line, especially for a 3rd line.
It’s a big ask to have a player coming off a head injury jump right back into a high stakes playoff game, but the Pens could really use having Carl Hagelin and also for him to be at his best for Game 4 to help add some scoring beyond the Guentzel-Crosby-Hornqvist line.