The Pittsburgh Penguins did not get good news Tuesday at practice, and the injury list was so long that coach Mike Sullivan had to pause to remember them all. In total, four Penguins missed practice, and two did so with longer-term injuries.
The Penguins’ top six could take a significant hit.
Per Sullivan, Rickard Rakell is out “longer term” with an upper-body injury. This season, Rakell has struggled to finish chances and is goalless in the first 17 games despite playing with Evgeni Malkin and Reilly Smith.
It’s unclear when he sustained the injury. He played deep into the third period Sunday in the Penguins 3-0 win over the Vegas Golden Knights. His last full shift was with about eight minutes remaining. He had a short shift in the final two minutes that lasted only three seconds.
That’s the first top-six absence. Winger Bryan Rust is possibly the other. He is being evaluated for a lower-body injury. Rust attempted to practice on Tuesday at PPG Paints Arena but left before practice began.
Fourth-line winger Matt Nieto was given a maintenance day, his second maintenance day in recent weeks.
Another injury that could rattle the Penguins’ lineup is one to the defenseman Chad Ruhwedel, who Sullivan termed out “Week to week” with a lower-body injury.
The Penguins do not currently have a healthy seventh defenseman as P.O Joseph remains on IR with a lower-body injury, and John Ludvig remains on LTIR. However, Ludvig is eligible to return from the injured list and has participated in recent Penguins practices.
Ludvig played the right side in his only NHL appearance this season (and the first of his career). Ludvig was injured when he attempted to deliver a full-speed open-ice hit to Dallas Stars forward Radek Faksa.
Possible Penguins Lineup Replacements
The Penguins have a few options for their top six. Tuesday, Vinnie Hinostroza worked with the top line in Rust’s place. Hinostroza also worked on the power play units with a pretty snipe, too.
Sullivan also mentioned Alex Nylander as a potential call-up because of his offensive pedigree. Nylander has eight points (5-3-8) in 11 games this season.
Noel Acciari also got some work on the second power play.
The other potential call-up would be Jansen Harkins, who began the season with the Pittsburgh Penguins on the third line but was waived after four games and assigned to WBS.
Harkins has nine points (4-5-9) in 10 AHL games. He was scoreless in four games with the Penguins.
The Penguins will need one, if not three, replacements for their Metro Division clash with the New York Rangers at PPG Paints Arena on Wednesday.