The Pittsburgh Penguins are no strangers to players suffering injuries. Every team is, but in recent years it seems the Penguins always suffer the most. This year is no different, and it’s a shame because the regular season hasn’t even started yet. To add insult to injury, no pun intended, a player has recently come down with COVID-19.
Pittsburgh’s hall-of-fame captain has had a rough go of it in regard to injuries. Sidney Crosby has a long history of concussions and other various nagging problems. As of right now, he is still predicted to miss at least the first six weeks of the season after wrist surgery. While this doesn’t seem to be too long, it could still be detrimental to the team.
On Sept. 23, general manager Ron Hextall said, despite his injury, Crosby has been performing at practice. Crosby has apparently been zipping around practice every day with only one hand with the puck. This is great news as Crosby’s going to be fresh and ready to go when he’s ready. Again, the timeline as of right now is at least six weeks, but nothing is absolutely certain.
Just like Crosby, Evgeni Malkin has seemingly always suffered injuries. For example, in his 15-year career so far, he’s only played a full 82 game season twice. Just last season, he missed 23 games. Even worse, he suffered a knee injury during the first round of the playoffs against the New York Islanders. What’s the timeline on his return? Well, worse than originally anticipated.
Although it was unknown whether Malkin would be available for the start of the season, recent news revealed it’ll take a while. Last week, the organization announced that Malkin will miss the first two months of the season. This was an absolute bombshell as the Penguins will be without their second line center for far too long. Ideally, that timeline won’t change as Pittsburgh will need all the help they can get.
Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan announced the unfortunate news that Zach Aston-Reese contracted COVID-19. Although this isn’t quite an injury, it’s being handled in mostly the same way. This makes things even worse for Pittsburgh as now they’re without the services of a solid two-way component of the checking line. Of course, Aston-Reese will be back for the regular season, but it is still saddening as he wanted to improve his game this preseason.
Aston-Reese himself said that he really wants to use these next exhibition games to showcase what he’s been working on. He wanted to be a more active contributor to the offense as he said he’s been focusing on getting more pucks on net rather than simply dumping the puck into the offensive zone and chasing it. It was going to be an exciting postseason for Aston-Reese, but it sadly wasn’t meant to be.
It’ll be interesting to see how the Penguins deal with these injuries, specifically how they’ll adapt their lines. Fans should expect to see play from some newer faces to overcome this new adversity. After all, the preseason is where the new guys can prove themselves to management and hopefully get some ice time during the regular season.
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