The Pittsburgh Penguins have struggled heavily since Teddy Blueger suffered his injury. More specifically, the bottom-six has been fairly underwhelming. As many fans are well aware, Blueger is a huge component of Pittsburgh’s depth. Thankfully, the Penguins organization released more information about his current condition. It looks like he’s making great strides in his recovery.
Blueger required jaw surgery after taking a high hit in Pittsburgh’s game Jan. 23 against the Winnipeg Jets. The scene itself was fairly graphic. Jets’ defenseman Brenden Dillon drove his shoulder into Blueger’s jaw, effectively shattering it against the boards. After watching the video of the encounter, it’s hard to believe that he could already be nearing a comeback. Well, it looks like he could be ready to rock soon.
Blueger held a press conference Wednesday about his recovery process and on the hit itself. Blueger said the recovery process went alright as he was given pointers and advice from teammates who’ve had that injury themselves. Zach Aston-Reese, who was not playing that game due to a lower-body injury, was right with Blueger in the medical room the entire time. As for the hit, Blueger said it is in the past. It happened, and there are no hard feelings.
After the surgery, Blueger was met with the normal discomfort that would follow a facial surgery. He couldn’t chew nor sleep normally, but nothing too bad. Head coach Mike Sullivan also weighed in, saying how much the team relies on him. He went on to say that, because of Blueger’s versatility, he’s not an easy player to replace. Looks like the organization is excited to see his progress.
A Look Ahead
Blueger has been practicing for a few days with a no-contact jersey and a full-face shield on his helmet. The fact that he’s already skating with the team makes the organization confident in his return. It’s also worth mentioning that he’s only four weeks into his estimated 6–8-week recovery time. Is it possible that he returns ahead of schedule? Sure, but not certain.
The team’s depth group has been struggling since his injury. Brian Boyle has taken Blueger’s spot at fourth line center, but even then, the lines have been all jumbled up. Brock McGinn was moved to the third line, and Kasperi Kapanen was demoted to the third as well. Dominik Simon has become a regular on the fourth line. However, there doesn’t seem to be a possible combination that can fill the void that Blueger left. No wonder why the organization is counting down the days when he comes back.
Once Blueger comes back, he will undoubtedly be reunited with Aston-Reese and McGinn on the fourth line. The entire lineup, it seems, will also return to normal. What’s even better is that the penalty-killing unit will also get their leader back in Blueger. Despite being a fourth liner, it seems that Blueger’s impact on the team is much more than what meets the eye.
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