Hopes for the Penguins to have their first full lineup of the season that is now almost half over have been dashed for the time being. The team announced that forward Jason Zucker and goalie Louis Domingue have been placed on the injured reserve list.
The Penguins have activated forwards Zach Aston-Reese and Danton Heinen, as well as goaltender Casey DeSmith from the NHL's COVID-19 Protocol List.— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) January 20, 2022
Forward Jason Zucker and goaltender Louis Domingue have been placed on injured reserve.
Details: https://t.co/mqFVQIEDFf pic.twitter.com/sQTC5QtZdx
The good news is at least the timing lines up where all of Zach Aston-Reese, Danton Heinen and Casey DeSmith are back in time to backfill for the loses.
Each loss is a tough one, though, given the timing.
Zucker just returned from a weeks-long absence for his first game back in the Pens’ last game against Vegas. It was his best game of the season too, with two goals and a season-high seven shots on goal. Zucker practiced yesterday and without any major detectable issue before not participating in the game day skate today and now landing on IR.
Domingue got the opportunity to play his first NHL game in almost two years earlier this week and was excellent in it, stopping 40 of 41 shots and being the Pens’ best player in a win over San Jose. Domingue was slated to be the backup goalie tonight per coach Mike Sullivan, but left the game day skate injured after apparently taking a puck off the inside of his skate.
Due to the NHL’s injured reserve, both players will be unable to play games for a minimum of seven games. This is awful timing for Domingue, who may have been able to at least challenge for the backup goalie spot, if not at least get into game action in the near future. Now he is reset, and presumably DeSmith will get the next crack at solidifying his position.
For Zucker, it’s a tough break for a player looking to get back on track, only to now have his season thrown once again into question as far as where and when it will go on from here.
Full health has eluded the Penguins for quite some time, and it will continue to do so for at least another week. However, in 2022, full health is a luxury that no NHL team has been able to brag about for very long. The Pens will have to move ahead with what they have, and fortunately that still means one of the healthiest lineups they’ve been able to put together tonight against the Ottawa Senators, even without Zucker and Domingue.