The Pittsburgh Penguins practiced Tuesday morning after a well-earned day off on Monday, and unfortunately there was a key player missing from the ice. Jared McCann wasn’t with the team and afterwards coach Mike Sullivan provided an update:
Coach Sullivan confirms that Jared McCann (who missed practice this morning) is day-to-day with a lower-body injury. pic.twitter.com/ARrgBncKH1— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) October 15, 2019
Without McCann, here’s how the Penguins looked in practice:
#Pens workflow...— Pens Inside Scoop (@PensInsideScoop) October 15, 2019
And how about Sam Lafferty, going from being in the AHL a mere eight days ago to scoring five points in four NHL games (to put him among early-season NHL rookie scoring leaders) to now being on the NHL second line. What a whirlwind for him!
Given Mike Sullivan’s coach-speak, McCann’s status for tomorrow night’s game is certainly in question. If McCann was totally expected to play tomorrow and just needed a day off the ice to deal with a minor, very short-term injury, he would have had a “maintenance day” today.
Being as the team starts another stretch of three games in four days, even a “day to day” injury could result in missing several games. The Pens are back down to only 11 healthy forwards at the moment, so it wouldn’t be shocking to see another recall from Wilkes-Barre made soon to give them a bit more depth.
In slightly better news, Bryan Rust hit the ice prior to practice with a skills coach, and Nick Bjugstad at least took a little twirl on the ice on his own in a track suit. Due to his placement on long-term injured reserve Rust must stay on IR for 10 games AND 24 days. That means he isn’t eligible to play until Saturday October 26th, at the earliest. But it does certainly look like he’s trending towards making his season debut at that time, if not shortly after he is able to do so.
Bjugstad can return when he is healthy and able, which isn’t expected in the immediate future. But it’s good to see him back on the ice in some capacity and take a tangible step on his road to recovery from an undisclosed lower body injury on October 5th.
It doesn’t look like yet there have been any on ice sightings of the other two injured forwards in Alex Galchenyuk and Evgeni Malkin. That’s no real surprise in Malkin’s case — most media reports have primed us to expect a 4-6+ week absence — but Galchenyuk was said to re-aggravate a minor injury on October 8th. Given that it’s now been a week and still no sign of Galchenyuk, that’s obviously not very encouraging to see him perhaps as quickly as might have been anticipated.