CRANBERRY TOWNSHIP, Pa — Injured Pittsburgh Penguins forward Carl Hagelin will consult with doctors Tuesday. He believes it is a strong possibility he will play in the Penguins Round 2 series against the Washington Capitals.
“Yes,” Hagelin said simply when asked if playing in the series is a legitimate possibility.
Hagelin suffered an upper-body injury when was hit by Philadelphia Flyers forward Claude Giroux in Game 6 of the Penguins Round 1 series. As Hagelin skated around the Penguins net, Giroux laid in wait and caught the Penguins speedy forward in a head-on collision. Hagelin immediately left the ice and has not played since.
Hagelin practiced Monday in a non-contact jersey, albeit with a nasty cut above his upper lip and missing a front tooth. Perhaps he could borrow Justin Schultz’ spare chomper?
“Felt good. It’s always nice to be back and skate around with your teammates like that,” Hagelin said. “It’s always hard watching from the TV, but I felt good today.”
Hagelin copped to not having seen the Giroux hit, which was controversial because it was in the head area, at least in Pittsburgh circles.
“I haven’t even seen the play, and that’s in the past,” Hagelin said. “It doesn’t matter now.”
After a brutally slow start to the season, Hagelin flourished from January until the end of the season. He had only six points (2g, 4a) in the Penguins first 39 games, through December 31. However, in 2018, Hagelin scored 25 points (8g, 17a) in the next 42 games.
The Penguins struck gold in the second half of the season, Hagelin was paired with Evgeni Malkin and Patric Hornqvist, and sometimes Bryan Rust, to form the Penguins most statistically successful line. Malkin surged to 98 points this season, as the pair formed a strong chemistry.
Without Hagelin and Malkin, who was also injured in the Round 1 series, the Penguins split the first two games with Washington in Round 2. From his seat, Hagelin said Round 2 has been a good series.
“It’s two really good teams who have gone at it for a couple years here. So they kind of know each other, the ins and outs,” he said. “1-1 sounds fair.”
The facial injuries may force Hagelin to play with a full face shield if he returns, though no decision has been made. The Swede did play with a full face shield when he played four years at the University of Michigan.
“We’ve got to set the tone,” Hagelin said in reference to Game 3. The Penguins have spotted the Capitals early goals in each of the first two games. The Capitals scored just 17 seconds into Game 1, and 86 seconds into Game 2. Both goals came largely because Penguins forwards didn’t cover pinching defenseman, which is certainly a strength of Hagelin’s game.