The injury updates – the latest ones, anyway – for the Pittsburgh Penguins are in, and they aren’t encouraging.
Winger Bryan Rust (lower body) and defenseman Chad Ruhwedel (upper body) are both out “longer term,” coach Mike Sullivan said
Wednesday after the team practiced at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex.
Neither is expected to require surgery, but there are just 19 games left in the regular season.
Both players were hurt during Tuesday’s 5-2 win at Columbus, Rust with an apparent left leg/ankle injury and Ruhwedel with an apparent right arm/shoulder injury.
Rust got hurt when he got hit by Columbus’ Adam McQuaid in the corner. It was a collision that sent both players to the locker room, but McQuaid returned.
Rust has been a key player. After a slow start this season, he has 17 goals, 31 points in 62 games. He has been versatile enough to serve in several roles, including on the top line.
“He’s a good player for us,” Sullivan said. “Rusty brings a lot. He’s a good penalty-killer. He brings so much speed and puck pursuit to the lines that he plays on.
“But it’s part of the game. It’s going to provide opportunities for others to step up and play a more significant role. They’ve got to embrace that challenge. We believe we have capable people.”
Ruhwedel got taken into the end boards by Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno.
He has played in just 18 games this season, with a goal and an assist, but he has proven capable when in the lineup, even after long idle stretches.
As it is, the Penguins had to recall Zach Trotman from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League for Tuesday’s game to have a full complement of six defensemen.
Defenseman Erik Gudbranson, obtained from Vancouver in a trade at the league deadline Monday, was not available Tuesday because of visa issues. He practiced with the team Wednesday, working with Marcus Pettersson, and is expected to make his Penguins debut Friday at Buffalo.
In other injury updates, Sullivan said defenseman Brian Dumoulin “is progressing,” and he and defenseman Kris Letang are status quo. Dumoulin has a concussion. Letang has an upper-body injury. Both have missed one game. Neither is skating yet. They normally make up the top pairing.
“We just have to have a next-man-up mentality,” Sullivan said. “That’s how we’ve always approached it. We believe we have depth in our organization. We have capable people.”
The lines and pairings at practice:
Jake Guentzel-Sidney Crosby-Patric Hornqvist
Zach Aston-Reese—Evgeni Malkin-Phil Kessel
Jared McCann-Nick Bjugstad-Dominik Simon
Garrett Wilson-Matt Cullen-(Mark Recchi)
Jack Johnson-Justin Schultz
Erik Gudbranson-Marcus Pettersson
Zach Trotman-Juuso Riikola