The Pittsburgh Penguins joined the San Jose Sharks in a dubious category on Wednesday. San Jose has a whopping 15 players and coaches in protocol, but now COVID is visiting the Penguins locker room, too, and it will take four regulars out of the Penguins lineup, including Sidney Crosby.
Talk about another symbol of the Penguins’ bad luck. The players are the fifth through the eighth players to enter the COVID protocol. A ninth player, goaltender Tristan Jarry, was a false positive and was quickly out of protocol.
Head coach Mike Sullivan said Crosby experienced mild symptoms. Dumoulin was asymptomatic.
Sullivan was encouraged by the cases of Pettersson and Ruhwedel. He said they are quickly improving. He called that news encouraging, Ruhwedel was able to work out on Tuesday; Sullivan has been in contact with both players. Pettersson had mild symptoms.
The coach also acknowledged it is probably discouraging to Crosby, who rehabbed his surgically repaired wrist for the last six weeks.
“I’ll call him this afternoon when I’m finished here to check in with him. I’m sure he’s discouraged. He’s worked extremely hard to get to this point…,” Sullivan said. “…We were all so excited about getting him back in the lineup and just getting back in the fold, and this just kind of just puts another roadblock in front of it. But you know, we will control what we can here.”
Crosby has played just one game this season and may have a sour taste with the way it ended. On Saturday, Crosby was called for slashing Jesper Bratt in the final minutes. The penalty resulted in a penalty shot which decided the game.
“It was a penalty, maybe…” Crosby lamented as he disagreed with the penalty shot award.
Penguins defenseman Kris Letang returned from the COVID protocol on Wednesday. He was cleared on Monday and was a full go at practice on Wednesday. The virus has especially hard hit the defense corps. With the lastest absences, four of the Penguins regular six d-men have or are going through protocol. Only John Marino and Mark Friedman have been spared.
P.O. Joseph anchored the Penguins second pairing with John Marino on Wednesday. Letang and Mike Matheson comprised the top pairing, and Mark Friedman played with Juuso Riikola on the third pairing.
“We do keep in contact with them, more quite honestly, just to just to check in with their health and see how they’re doing and their families, and if there’s anything we can do on our side to try to help them through that process,” Sullivan said. “Then as they get better–for example, I talked to Chad and Marcus this morning–Chad was able to ride the bike yesterday, so he started to exercise again. Marcus is in the same circumstances. His symptoms are improving. So we’re just trying to monitor these guys through the process and try to help them in any way that we can.”
Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan:
The Penguins host the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night in an important Metro Division battle.