Bad news today from Pittsburgh Penguins practice in the form of injury updates to Bryan Rust and Chad Ruhwedel.
Coach Sullivan on players injured in yesterday’s game: “Rust is longer term with a lower-body injury. Ruhwedel is longer term with an upper-body injury.”— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) February 27, 2019
“Longer term” in coach-speak is not a good sign. Rust was reportedly seen in a walking boot shortly after the game last night. He was injured after colliding with Adam McQuaid, who then fell on top of him too.
This is a crucial loss, just look at the scoring leaders for the team since December 12th, sorted by goals:
Rust’s 16 goals are going to be tough to replace. His spot at practice was taken by Dominik Simon.
It’s a bit lost in the shuffle, but this is awful for Ruhwedel too. It’s obviously never a good time to get hurt, but Ruhwedel was finally getting steady playing time - and not doing too poorly either. He’s a free agent at season’s end. The Pens just traded for another defensemen, they already have six under contract next year. And two restricted free agents that at this point they figure to bring back in Marcus Pettersson and Juuso Riikola.
Ruhwedel might have been playing to showcase himself somewhere else. He was seen, arm in sling after the game. That’s never a good sign either.
Here’s how the lines looked today:
Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Patric Hornqvist
Zach Aston-Reese - Evgeni Malkin - Phil Kessel
Jared McCann - Nick Bjugstad - Dominik Simon
Garrett Wilson - Matt Cullen - ____________
Jack Johnson / Justin Schultz
Marcus Pettersson / Erik Gudbranson
Juuso Riikola / Zach Trotman
—With Rust’s injury the team is down to 11 forwards. Expect a call-up (Teddy Blueger?) before next game to join the fourth line
—Erik Gudbranson made his introductions to the team. For all the mean, nasty things people have said about him, he knows which end of the stick to put on the ice, so that’s a start
Looking good in black and gold, Erik Gudbranson! pic.twitter.com/UGfbSgMgwd— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) February 27, 2019
—No returns yet for Brian Dumoulin or Kris Letang. The Pens have a few days off here, but a back-to-back looms on Friday and Saturday, and they’ll be coming up quick. Ideally, especially for a concussion return, a return to the ice is a big, visible “next step” to take on the path to return. We’re not there yet and it’s uncertain when it’ll be.