The Penguins did not make it through the holiday break unscathed from COVID with the latest wave of the virus sweeping over America. It got out last night that Evan Rodrigues was in the protocol, and five more players including starting goalie Tristan Jarry will join him.
The following players have been added to the NHL’s COVID-19 Protocol List:— Penguins PR (@PenguinsPR) December 27, 2021
• Teddy Blueger
• Tristan Jarry
• John Marino
• Mike Matheson
• Evan Rodrigues
• Dominik Simon
Jake Guentzel (non-COVID illness) will not practice today as well.
Those are some tough losses with Marino playing top-four minutes, Blueger as the center of the checking line, Matheson was starting as of late to produce (2G+3A in the last five games).
It really is difficult to bother analyzing the losses much further though, the Penguins game tonight and Wednesday are already postponed. The next game scheduled to be played is on Friday afternoon but remains an unknown as to if that will happen.
Those test results aside, there was some good news:
And the great news is that Evgeni Malkin is also wearing a regular black jersey!— Pens Inside Scoop (@PensInsideScoop) December 27, 2021
The team about now could shake out something like this by the time the next game happened:
Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Bryan Rust
Jason Zucker - Evgeni Malkin - Kasperi Kapanen
Danton Heinen - Jeff Carter - Brock McGinn
Zach Aston-Reese - Brian Boyle - Sam Lafferty/Drew O’Connor
Brian Dumoulin / Kris Letang
Marcus Pettersson / Chad Ruhwedel
? / Mark Friedman
Casey DeSmith + ? in goal
There are some assumptions to be made, including that all of Guentzel, Malkin and Rust will be able to play the next time that there is a game, but the scale keeps sliding back and all have (at least) four more days in their recoveries to make it to full clearance. Malkin and Rust today were already working with the first power play and are well on their way to playing about as soon as the team does at this point.
Up front, the Pens are down three forwards but are going to be OK if all of the injured players are in fact able to return.
Defensively, it’s a different story with the losses of two defenders standing out a lot. The Pens are going to need some reinforcements from Wilkes-Barre to play, assuming they play in the near future. Pierre-Olivier Joseph might be getting a call soon, one would think..
Clearly a recall from Wilkes-Barre will be necessary in net, and likely in the form of Louis Dominigue (if available, as he’s been returning from an injury of his own).
Here’s what the lines actually did look like today:
I wouldn't read anything into these lines with the amount of players missing:— Pens Inside Scoop (@PensInsideScoop) December 27, 2021
Hennes is filling in at wing with Boyle and Lafferty
Reirden is filling in at D with Friedman
Some other random news and notes on a day full of them.
- Bryan Rust was also wearing a contact jersey as he ups his return as well as he looks to return from an injury that has kept him out of game action since November 24th.
- Emergency backup Mike Chiasson played in the other net in practice along with Casey DeSmith.
- Jason Zucker, who has missed several practices in a row lately was again absent from practice. There’s no real point in not resting him and giving him the time that they suddenly have available, but it does speak to just how banged up he was/is that Zucker can’t participate in a practice and is still off the ice for now eight days since the Pens last game (12/19 vs NJ).
- Guentzel, as mentioned in a tweet above, was also not on the ice with a non-COVID illness today.
- Reportedly all coaches were seen at practice, meaning no further staff virus issues at the moment.
- If my tally is correct, there are only 10 Pens players who have NOT taken a trip to the COVID protocol list this season. They would be Brian Boyle, Casey DeSmith, Mark Friedman, Danton Heinen, Kasperi Kapanen, Sam Lafferty, Evgeni Malkin, Brock McGinn, Drew O’Connor and Jason Zucker.