Welcome to Pittsburgh Penguins News & Rumors, where we cover all the hot topics and dive into more than just box scores. As the Penguins get set for Game 7 vs. the New York Rangers on Sunday, let’s examine some of the storylines ongoing during the team’s first-round series.
Crosby Not Expected to Play Game 7
From the sounds of it, don’t expect to see Penguins captain Sidney Crosby dress for Game 7. Crosby went down with a concussion thanks to Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba, who delivered a dirty, high hit in Game 5. The Rangers used the incident as momentum for a Game 5 comeback and they took advantage of the Penguins star missing during Game 6.
While head coach Mike Sullivan confirmed Crosby skated on his own on Friday, he didn’t seem to set on seeing him again this series. Considering all his history with head injuries, it may be wise for the Penguins leader to sit this one out. Of course, he likely wants to play, but at what point is too much, too much?
Malkin Known for Stepping up Sans Crosby
When the Penguins captain is out of the lineup, fans can expect to see Evgeni Malkin take his game to another level. “Geno” doesn’t mind having a target on his back and he takes full responsibility for being the team’s leader when his running mate is injured.
Let’s start with Malkin, he’s now played in 151 career games (both regular season and Stanley Cup Playoffs) without Crosby in the lineup, and all he’s done is record 203 points. Absolutely mind-blowing production for someone who is zoned-in on more because of the missing superstar.
Even during Game 6 vs. the Rangers on Friday, the Russian star scored his third goal of the Stanley Cup Playoffs to tie the game at three late in the second period after New York had built a ton of momentum to head into the third. Unfortunately, this time around it wasn’t enough as Game 7 goes Sunday.
Rust as Clutch as They Come for Penguins
Bryan Rust has a clutch gene. Who knows where he may have been blessed to receive this from, but he’s got it and he loves to use it. Heading into the elimination game on Friday, the speedy winger had recorded some mind-blowing numbers when the series is on the line. Even without Crosby down the middle for him, the 30-year-old veteran was able to produce in Game 6.
Eleven goals now in 23 elimination games, a rather impressive feat for someone who wasn’t always a first-line winger. Rust has battled throughout his career to find more ice time and we’ve all seen him develop in front of our own eyes since he showed up as a rookie in 2014-15. Eight seasons later and unfortunately this could be it for the former third-round pick from 2010. Rust is a pending unrestricted free agent who will receive a ton of interest on the open market, and considering the major decisions management has to make this upcoming offseason, Penguins fans are hoping the team gets by the Rangers and carries on so they can see this core play together that much longer.
Domingue Thrown Into Tough Spot for Penguins
Louis Domingue went from third-stringer to Stanley Cup Playoff starter, but unfortunately the task has been too much to handle. The 30-year-old southpaw put up great numbers in his two appearances for the Penguins; however, in this series against the Rangers, he’s shown his true colors.
Sure, he’s made some unbelievable saves at times and kept the Penguins in games, but his .898 save percentage is not going to get the job done in the postseason. Game 6 may have been his last as the team is hopeful starter Tristan Jarry can be healthy enough to play. At this point, Jarry’s status is unknown for Game 7 as he continues to recover from a broken foot. The good news is he’s skating and making progress, so even if it’s not the series-deciding game, there’s great probability if Pittsburgh can somehow pull off a victory, we’d all see Jarry suit up in the Pens’ second-round series.
The Penguins will play with their season on the line Sunday in New York as the team looks to overcome months of injury troubles and “next man up” mentality. Nothing is confirmed yet if Crosby or Jarry will suit up for Game 7, but at this point both are doubtful. The good news, you ask? The Penguins are 6-0 when playing Game 7 on the road.
Shane covers any and everything to do with the Toronto Maple Leafs & Pittsburgh Penguins. A constant contributor to the THW family, his passion and unique perspective on the game results in some diverse content. Certainly versatile, you can also find him contributing at NHLTradeRumors.me, BaseballRumors.me & BBallRumors.com. Follow along on Twitter @ShugMcSween