It was a telling weekend from Buffalo to Pittsburgh. From the podiums to old COVID precautions, the Pittsburgh Penguins are grinding towards their most unsettled season since 2014-15, and with the most precarious playoff hopes the Penguins core group has ever had.
The 2021-22 season is eight days away, and the Penguins lineup came into focus on Sunday when they squashed the Detroit Red Wings 5-1 at PPG Paints Arena. Just as insightful, the Penguins beat the Buffalo Sabres 2-1 on Friday night in Buffalo.
The Penguins lines will look far different in November than October after Sidney Crosby returns, just as the lines will look much different in January than November when Evgeni Malkin should be on the ice.
While Crosby’s situation is easy to bet on, Malkin’s injury and long-term prognosis are still hazy. But just in case the Penguins need a longer-term answer at second-line center, big Jeff Carter scored the first goal of the game on Sunday in the Penguins NHL regulars’ first preseason action as a unit.
There could be one. Maybe two.