These past few weeks have been nothing short of disastrous for the entirety of the NHL. Games have been postponed left and right, and players are coming down with the more contagious variant of COVID-19, Omnicron. Both fortunately and unfortunately, there is some good and bad news for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Starting Off with the Good News
Just to start things off a little lighter, there are a few good things the Penguins are experiencing. This news involves some players coming back from injury. That’s right, any Penguins fan anywhere is going to be ecstatic to learn that Evgeni Malkin has been participating in practice with full-contact jerseys on. This can only mean that he’s finally cleared to return to the lineup.
As a member of Pittsburgh’s Big Three, things haven’t been the same without him. The level of intensity and skill that he brings day in, and day out is second only to Sidney Crosby. While he hasn’t played any games at all this season and was limited to only 33 games last season, his consistency when it comes to putting up points is much needed on the Penguins’ roster right about now.
Not only is Malkin participating full contact in practice, but so is Bryan Rust. He suffered an injury Nov. 24 against the Vancouver Canucks and has been out since. In the 12 games Rust played, he scored two goals and has a total of nine points. The return of both Malkin and Rust will give the offense an extra scoring touch that certainly couldn’t hurt.
Now, the Bad News
Unfortunately, the bad heavily outweighs the good. First off, the organization announced Tuesday that Jason Zucker it out with a nagging lower-body injury. He is now week-to-week. For the past few weeks, Zucker has been periodically missing practice and having “maintenance days.” Because of this, fans began speculating on his health. Now, it’s official that he will be missing some games.
Zucker won’t be the only one missing games. Just recently, Pittsburgh announced a handful of players contracted COVID. These players included forwards Teddy Blueger, Evan Rodrigues and Dominik Simon. The defense lost John Marino and Mike Matheson as well. Finally, what could be the biggest blow to the roster is the fact that goaltender Tristan Jarry tested positive.
So, not the greatest news. The Penguins lost Rodrigues, arguably the MVP of the team so far this season. Then, losing Blueger, the quarterback of the penalty-killing unit, and Simon who has been a great depth piece. Marino and Matheson will be sorely missed in the lineup, and Jarry, who is having an incredible bounce back season, will leave behind a massive hole.
So, What Now?
This news would be even more horrendous under any other circumstances. However, their absence won’t be noticeable for some time. Why? Well, because the Penguins aren’t playing any games. So far, the league had to step in and postpone Pittsburgh’s last four games, including their game Friday against the Ottawa Senators.
Overall, things are looking really bad for the league, not to mention the world. Omnicron has been spreading faster than anticipated, and it shows. The World Juniors, which fans everywhere were so excited to see, was cancelled Wednesday. If a world-wide hockey tournament is being cancelled due to outbreaks of COVID, it can be predicted the NHL is next.
Things have been going rough for the Penguins. They lost a total of six players to COVID, one of which being their star goaltender. But, then again, there is always the return of Malkin and Rust to the lineup. However, it doesn’t mean much when they aren’t playing any games. It’s sad to predict this, but it looks like the postponement of the NHL season is imminent.
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