What the hell happened in the span of a month to the Pittsburgh Penguins?
Remember January 1, when Jordan Staal made his return to the lineup and the team finally had all of its players healthy? Fast forward to today and the team's two biggest stars, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, are out. The team's top winger, Chris Kunitz, has the mysterious lower-body injury and there is no word when he will be back. I haven't seen Aaron Asham in what feels like forever. And finally, Matt Cooke is suspended for four games.
|I hate Tyler Myers for doing this to Malkin!|
What's scary is the severity of some of these injuries. Malkin had surgery to repair a torn ACL and is out for the season, while Crosby is dealing with a concussion and no one knows when or if he'll be back. Kunitz was finally having a healthy season as a member of the Pens, but we know he is a little injury prone and this could just be a start of a familiar and frustrating situation.
Asham won't be missed too much, as he wasn't doing much when he was playing. The Cooke suspension at least has a set timetable. We know he'll be back in four games. But he is on the NHL's radar and could be suspended again because of the way he plays. Personally, I don't mind the way Cooke plays most nights. He gets after the puck and pisses off the other team while doing so. But he deserved to be suspended for his check in the back the other night. I don't care if the guy saw Cooke coming and then turned his back, Cooke left his feet and propelled into the guy. Cooke is not Alexander Ovechkin, so he can't get away with that stuff.
The injuries and suspensions have the Pens looking like the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Baby Penguins tonight. Six of the 12 forwards started this season in the AHL. Ryan Craig, Joey Vitale, Chris Connor, Dustin Jeffrey, Brett Sterling and Ben Johnson are all in the lineup tonight.
On one hand, it will be great to see how the AHL guys perform on the big stage. On the other, I'd much rather see Crosby and Malkin out there and keep wondering about the AHL guys.
Who is going to score goals for this team? Jordan Staal hasn't been able to do much since his return, Tyler Kennedy is Tyler Kennedy, Pascual Dupuis is lost on offense without Crosby and Max Talbot doesn't score goals in the regular season. You get the point.
It could be a long time before we see a lot of pretty goals from the Pens. This team is going to have to fight and grind for every goal. The team has only scored more than three goals twice since Crosby went down.
February is going to be a long month for the Pens and their fans.
The Firm - Radioactive