After putting his name in the record books besides no less than Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky for the best start to a calendar year, we finally found out what can stop Bryan Rust in 2022. Unfortunately, it’s the COVID protocol list, where Rust and fellow forward Brock McGinn have been placed.
Brock McGinn and Bryan Rust have been added to the COVID-19 Protocol List and will not play today in Dallas. pic.twitter.com/dSVZ69sl04— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) January 8, 2022
Mike Sullivan announced this before the game as well as some other news and notes. Jeff Carter will play today for his first game back since testing positive for COVID, but Evgeni Malkin (expected to make his season debut at some point on this road trip) will not be making that season debut today against Dallas.
As a result, the Penguins only have 11 healthy and available forwards with them on the road for their afternoon game against the Dallas Stars.
Coach Sullivan also mentioned that a defenseman will have to play in a forward role today.— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) January 8, 2022
"Some coaches prefer playing 7 D-men and 11 forwards. It's not an uncommon combination. We'll do our best to keep guys involved and make sure we get proper rest for certain guys up front."
Sullivan has used defender Juuso Riikola as a forward in the past, Riikola is currently with the team on the taxi squad. If the Pens don’t utilize Riikola there, the only other option for today would be to dress and play defenseman Mark Friedman as a forward.
Rust and McGinn join forward Drew O’Connor as the current three Pittsburgh players in COVID protocol. The NHL and NHLPA have moved to lessen the window of isolation to five days for players with asymptomatic cases, but it remains to be seen when or if the Pens will get Rust and McGinn back with them on this current road trip that last for five more games and nine more days and wraps up in Vegas on Monday January 17th.
There are now only seven 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, Evgeni Malkin, and Jason Zucker. For Rust, he joins Jeff Carter as the players who have gone to protocol twice so far this season.