It’s bittersweet news for the Pittsburgh Penguins. The good news is the Penguins had only one player placed in NHL COVID protocol. As many teams have five or more in the NHL’s quarantine, the Penguins have only one.
The bad news, and bad luck, is it is the Penguins hottest scorer, Evan Rodrigues. The news was confirmed to PHN on Sunday evening.
This season, Rodrigues has been a revelation. The 28-year-old journeyman firmly placed himself in the Pittsburgh Penguins NHL lineup, eventually landing on the Penguins’ top line with Sidney Crosby. First, Rodrigues filled in for injured Bryan Rust on the RW, then flipped to the LW when Jake Guentzel presumably suffered a hand injury.
Head coach Mike Sullivan has praised Rodrigues as his “Swiss Army Knife.” The forward has appeared on both sides of the Penguins top line, the second-line center, the fourth line center, and a winger throughout the lineup.
In 30 games, Rodrigues has 23 points, including a career-high 10 goals.
The NHL created new roster exemptions on Sunday so teams would not have to play shorthanded, including temporarily re-instating the Taxi Squad. You can read the new NHL roster rules here.
The Penguins return to practice on Monday. The league entered an early holiday break on Dec. 22, and NHL games will resume on Dec. 28. The Penguins first scheduled game is against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Dec. 29, in Toronto. The Maple Leafs currently have 12 players and two coaches, including head coach Sheldon Keefe, in the protocol.