The Pittsburgh Penguins injury blotter now includes three of their top-six forwards. Head coach Mike Sullivan was quick to correct the media that the Penguins lineup is not in good shape, but it could get at least one, if not two, of its top players back if there is a game on Friday.
PHN is closely following the potential postponement of the Pittsburgh Penguins game in Ottawa on Friday, but if the game is played, you could see Bryan Rust back in the Penguins lineup. Jake Guentzel seems to be a possibility, but don’t bet on seeing Evgeni Malkin that quickly.
Rust and Malkin were in black sweaters and were full contact
“Rusty and (Malkin) practiced in a full capacity today, full contact. They appeared to do very well. I haven’t had discussions with them–after practice, I had a little bit of a discussion with Geno, but I have not spoken to Rusty. In just in watching their participation, I thought they had strong practices, so that’s a huge step for us,” Sullivan said.
“I think that I think Rusty is certainly a reasonable expectation (to play Friday). I think there’s a chance with Rusty. I don’t think Geno would be ready that soon. But certainly, they’re both making significant progress. The fact that they participated in practice in a full capacity today suggests so. So I think with Rusty, there’s a reasonable chance that we would get him back, but I think I think it would be aggressive on Geno’s part.”
Malkin took reps on the LW beside Sidney Crosby and Bryan Rust, but don’t get too excited. It’s not a thing just yet. Sullivan did confirm we could see that pairing as situations dictate, but Malkin will not make a position change anytime soon.
Sullivan said Guentzel is dealing with a non-COVID illness. On Monday, he was feeling better, and Sullivan seemed optimistic Guentzel could practice on Tuesday or Wednesday. Guentzel has been out after blocking a shot with his hand on Dec. 6 against the Seattle Kraken.
“Jake was sick. Non-COVID related. It sounds to me like he’s feeling a little bit better. We’ll see how he is tomorrow, but we’re hopeful we’ll get him fairly soon,” Sullivan said.
That would also indicate that Guentzel’s upper-body injury is ready to go, too.
On Sunday, the Penguins placed Evan Rodrigues into COVID protocol. Monday, five more players joined him, but fortunately for all involved, no one is yet dealing with severe symptoms.
“For the most part, everybody is doing very well. There are a couple of the guys that have mild, almost like cold-like symptoms, but most of them are doing very well. There’s a handful of them that are asymptomatic, so none of them to this point have anything significant.”
Jarry’s quarantine will keep him out until Jan. 6. The Penguins have four games scheduled between now and then. Pending which day Jarry entered protocol, he could be eligible to play against Philadelphia Flyers on Jan. 6.
The Penguins will presumably recall Louis Domingue from the WBS Penguins to back-up DeSmith. The Penguins are still sorting out who they may recall for the temporary Taxi Squad. Emergency goalie Mike Chiasson practiced with the team on Monday.
Without Matheson in the lineup, the Pittsburgh Penguins could recall P.O. Joseph or insert Mark Friedman into the lineup.