The Pittsburgh Penguins were finally looking to be healthy. As always, they’ve been struggling with losing more and more players to injuries and COVID. However, for only one or two games, they were at full strength. Unfortunately, that’s just not the case. Now, it looks like winger Jason Zucker and fourth-line center Teddy Blueger will be out for quite some time.
Blueger suffered his injury in Pittsburgh’s game against the Winnipeg Jets on Jan. 23. In what was supposed to be a routine, normal body check, the one delivering the check clearly went quite high. The defenseman, Brenden Dillon drove into Blueger leading with his shoulder. Unfortunately, his shoulder drove directly into Blueger’s jaw, breaking it.
So far this season, Blueger has been fantastic. Not only was he on pace to break his old season-high point total of 22, but he’s also been one of Pittsburgh’s No. 1 defensive players. Blueger has been a huge reason as to why Pittsburgh’s penalty-killing unit is arguably the top in the league. Despite only being on the fourth line, his impact has been immense.
Thankfully, Blueger’s jaw surgery went well. He’s scheduled to miss around six to eight weeks, with a return to be at least March 8. However, nothing is guaranteed, and he could require some more time to recover. Since his injury, Brian Boyle has been slotting in for him on the fourth line. Blueger’s absence will undoubtedly be noticed, but at least there’s a capable replacement until he’s ready to come back.
Zucker has been dealing with a nagging lower-body injury for quite some time. He was out for nearly a month as it looks like he received his injury on Pittsburgh’s Dec. 19 game against the New Jersey Devils. He finally made his return on Jan. 17 in a matchup against the Vegas Golden Knights, but it seems like his injury persisted as he’s back on the injured reserve.
It’s estimated that Zucker is going to be out until at least Feb. 24. Although Zucker has struggled this season, it’s been quite the improvement since last year’s performance. However, with him out of the lineup, it could give a shot for the prospects and younger guys to step up and prove themselves. While it may be a silver lining, Zucker’s energy on the ice will be sorely missed.
The injury bug seems to always find its way to the Pittsburgh Penguins. While it is beyond unfortunate that both Blueger and Zucker will be out for quite some time, it is a good opportunity for the other guys to get some ice time and prove themselves on the NHL level. However, fans will undoubtedly be counting down the days until both Blueger and Zucker come back.
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