The Penguins were right back at it on the ice on Wednesday, holding a widely attended optional practice just hours after the marathon triple overtime victory in Game 1 against the New York Rangers. Game 2 is tomorrow night.
Two players who likely won’t be playing tomorrow are goalie Casey DeSmith and forward Rickard Rakell. Neither were on the ice today, and after practice coach Mike Sullivan gave a brief, non-descript “day-to-day” injury status on both, removing any questions and hopes that DeSmith’s ailment was possibly some temporary cramping type of situation that might clear up quickly. To that end, Sullivan also said the Penguins anticipate calling up minor league goalie Alex D’Orio to the NHL roster, who would likely be the backup in Game 2.
DeSmith and Rakell are officially “still under evaluation” which is Sullivan’s nice cover for saying that he’s not revealing anything more. The day-to-day sounds nice, but doesn’t necessarily mean much right now in either direction for either player based on that designation alone this time of year.
DeSmith’s unavailability for tomorrow will again leave Louis Domingue as the likely top goalie for the Pens in Game 2. The 30-year old netminder has a total of 35 minutes of NHL playoff experience over two appearances and no starts. Domingue played one game in relief in 2018 with Tampa, and also of course earned the win in 17 minutes of relief overtime work last night.
In other news, Jason Zucker was back on the ice and escalated his practice involvement, today skating in a normal contact jersey.
Jason Zucker (lower-body) is participating and wearing a regular black jersey.— Pens Inside Scoop (@PensInsideScoop) May 4, 2022
With Rakell likely unavailable to play tomorrow, the Pens would need to play either Drew O’Connor or Zucker to take his spot and round out the 12 skaters.
Kasperi Kapanen and Danton Heinen both played well on Evgeni Malkin’s line last night, which should allow for either new entry to slot into a lower line role, though the team did not make any line rushes in drills today.
In other goalie news, Tristan Jarry has not yet skated from his (believed to be broken foot) injury on April 14th. But Jarry is with the team in New York and “continuing to rehab off the ice”.
There is some national whisperings that Jarry may be back fairly soon, per Elliotte Friedman on a radio hit.
Friedman just spoke on the Jeff Marek Show and it sounds like there’s a small possibility Jarry could be ready for Game 3. Phrased it as a “maybe but I don’t know.”— Hunter (@HunterHodies) May 4, 2022
Friedman also mentioned that naturally this time of year information is tough to come by, so only time will tell. Given that Jarry hasn’t been on the ice yet, it would seem to be a stretch that he could be back and playing as soon as Saturday (Game 3), however with the Pens now on their third string goalie, the pressure is on and the clock is ticking fairly loudly for Jarry. Not that he can do much about his situation or healing, but as it goes without saying that surely a player this time of year will be attempting to return just as soon as possible.
Domingue will now try to accomplish what Jeff Zatkoff couldn’t in 2016 and give a winning performance past Game 1 of a series against the Rangers. Zatkoff surrendered four goals on 28 shots in a Pittsburgh loss that year in the second game, before yielding the crease back to the returning Matt Murray. Murray came back and won the next three games in 2016 and the Pens eliminated New York in five games.
They say history doesn’t repeat itself but it sure does rhyme, and at this point the Penguins can attest to that in the situation of having to again play a third string goalie in Games 1 and 2 in a series against the Rangers just a few years apart.