The Penguins were off on Monday, but the PG saw Tristan Jarry getting a skate in. That was a good indication the Pens’ starting goalie was clearing through the COVID protocol list, and sure enough Jarry was back on the ice with the full team on Tuesday.
Welcome back Jarry! -DP pic.twitter.com/8HwjsuVccT— AT&T SportsNet™ PIT (@ATTSportsNetPIT) January 4, 2022
This is a great sign, for many reasons. Chief among them is that the schedule is about to pick up in a major way. Starting tomorrow, Pittsburgh has a back-to-back on Wednesday/Thursday and is a stretch that will see them play seven games in 13 days, the last six all coming on the road.
That is not a stretch a team wants to go into with a Casey DeSmith (.894 save% in seven games this season) and Louis Dominigue (.904 save% in 140 career NHL games) tandem with.
Especially when Jarry has been this good this season:
Goals Saved Above Expected Leaders - January 2 pic.twitter.com/RTtjvAlYNq— JFresh (@JFreshHockey) January 2, 2022
DeSmith has been one of the worst goalies with a -4.43 GSAA this season, a feat accomplished in only seven games.
Getting Jarry back, presumably to play in one of the b-2-b games this week and then likely get back into handling his starter’s workload will be a big benefit for the Pens. Pittsburgh also ends up being pretty fortunate that despite Jarry going on the COVID list, functionally speaking he only ended up really only missing one game (since he wouldn’t be playing both games in the b-2-b anyways), that is a situation that could have been a lot different or more costly.
Beyond just in the net, the Pens got more returns with Kasperi Kapanen back on the ice, and Teddy Blueger back for his first practice since being removed from the COVID list on Sunday. Brian Boyle (birth of child) was also back with the team.
With some additions meant some subtractions. Anthony Angello was sent back to Wilkes after his first stint this season on the NHL roster (where he didn’t dress for a game). Drew O’Connor was added to the protocol list. At this point only O’Connor and Jeff Carter (entered protocol on 12/31) looks sidelined for the Pens via COVID, with Jason Zucker (lower body injury, week-to-week) also on the shelf.
With O’Connor added to the list, the update of players who have been with the Pens all season to not have gone on the COVID list is down to eight. (If you’re keeping track they are Boyle, DeSmith, Mark Friedman, Danton Heinen, Sam Lafferty, Evgeni Malkin, Brock McGinn and Zucker).
Here is how the lines looked:
#Pens lines at practice...— Josh Getzoff (@PensJG) January 4, 2022
Due to the COVID issues and players coming/going, the lines of the day before a game haven’t been as reflective as they typically are for what to expect in the following day, but you can kinda see what the Penguins are shooting for in the near future with lines like this.
Malkin targeted playing “out west”, which would mean he isn’t aiming to play in the next two games this week on Weds/Thurs, which would make the game on Saturday against Dallas the first possible game with Malkin saying “about 10 days” last week and aligning pretty well with that game..
The good news for the team in having Kapanen, Blueger and Boyle all for the next game is bad news individually for Radim Zohorna and Kasper Bjorkqvist, one of whom is headed back to healthy scratch land (if not the taxi squad or AHL) in fairly short order.