The Penguins consolidated from three groups of players down to two today at practice. They can still choose to push and pull players from one group to another, but for now there is one pool of mostly AHL players and another pool that will be the NHL group.
The NHL group is being thinned out lately, however. Jeff Carter, injured in a scrimmage on Saturday is officially day-to-day and was said to be “progressing” by coach Mike Sullivan, but has not been seen on the ice in several days. Kasperi Kapanen, has remained on the sidelines with an illness. And today, Teddy Blueger left practice early after picking up what Sullivan called an upper body injury that is of unknown severity (or unrevealed for the moment).
As a result here was the team for the Pens, which continued to look a lot like last night. The only difference was that Drake Caggiula and Drew O’Connor were bumped from the NHL squad they appeared with last night down with the minor league group.
Here's the workflow. The Penguins just went with two guys on that last line:— Pens Inside Scoop (@PensInsideScoop) September 28, 2022
Interestingly enough, it was Zohorna as the fringe player who stuck with the “big boys” for this day at least. But with Carter remaining sidelined and now Blueger joining him, that could open the door up for Zohorna to skate longer with the NHL players. Should Blueger and Carter both be absent tomorrow, it will be interesting to see if it’s Caggiula or O’Connor or even center Sam Poulin who gets the informal “call up” to the main practice group.
In pro sports, often one individual’s pain can be a golden opportunity for another. In the case of these Blueger and Carter injuries, it also shouldn’t be lost about what is presenting itself for Ryan Poehling right now. Carter’s day-to-day designation suggests he should be available sooner than later, likely in time for the start of the regular season, Blueger’s prognosis remains unknown. With neither veteran likely to have a role with the team in the immediate future, the seas have parted wide open for Poehling. It’s never fun when it comes at the expense of teammates’ health, but it’s still an opportunity nonetheless for Poheling attempt to make his mark now with no other established lower-line centers in the picture at the moment.
On defense, pairs have remained the same and constant with Ty Smith remaining next to Jan Rutta. After playing a fairly solid 17 minutes last night, Smith didn’t give any reason for him to be removed from that featured spot in practice and is getting a longer look there.