After a day off on Sunday following the big 7-1 win on Saturday night, the Penguins were back at it on Monday at practice. This week gets into a game every-other-day rhythm for the Pens, with action on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday nights, all coming at home.
Here’s how the Pens lined up:
Crosby did line rushes this morning. He mostly centered Zucker and Heinen, though O'Connor did rotate in once on each of the wings.— Pens Inside Scoop (@PensInsideScoop) October 25, 2021
This is the order they went out in:
Crosby taking more and more line rushes is a nice sign to see him amping up practice participation. But the fact Sid isn’t skating with Jake Guentzel yet is a clear sign that he will not be returning tomorrow.
Coach Mike Sullivan still sounds pretty pleased and encouraged about where Crosby is at, though, in a positive sign:
More Sullivan on Crosby: "Obviously we want to get Sid in the lineup as quick as we possibly can, but we also want to make sure we do it in a safe manner. We'll rely and trust on our medical team that I think does such a great job in preparing our players for return to play."— Pens Inside Scoop (@PensInsideScoop) October 25, 2021
In unfortunate news, however, the team announced that Kris Letang’s positive COVID diagnosis has been confirmed. It seemed like they were holding out hope that subsequent tests might show an initial false positive test for Letang, as happened last week to goalie Tristan Jarry.
NHL protocols call for players who test positive to be in isolation for 10 days. But if that player is asymptomatic and fully vaccinated, he can be released from isolation if he tests negative on two consecutive days within that 10-day window.
That is the current status of Letang, as well as Jeff Carter, who tested positive last week as well.
The nearest guidelines to show a potential path forward for Letang and Carter are that of Jake Guentzel, and Zach Aston-Reese who both tested positive earlier this season. Aston-Reese isn’t the best example, since he dealt with symptoms that caused a fairly long delay, whereas Guentzel reported to be asymptomatic. It is believed that Letang and Carter are closer to Guentzel than Aston-Reese at this time.
Guentzel tested positive on October 3rd, and didn’t play a game until October 14th. He was off skates and in isolation for eight days, showing how long it took to create two different negative tests over consecutive days to leave the league’s protocols.
If Carter (who went into protocol last Thursday) can follow close to Guentzel’s timeline, there’s potentially an outside shot he could return for Saturday’s game, though clearly that’s not a prediction that can be made at this time. Based on those timelines it looks very unlikely Letang will be available for any of the three games this week.
For now, this Penguin team that has battled adversity doesn’t look likely to get any help back in the immediate future, so they’ll have to keep digging in and working with what they have.