It seems like every year the Pittsburgh Penguins are plagued by injures. They’ve tried everything from switching training staff, to bringing in new players and re-evaluating their medical staff. However, almost annually, the Penguins suffer from an enormous amount of injuries.
The 2015-16 season is already past the halfway mark and for the most part, Pittsburgh had remained relatively healthy. Forward Pascal Dupuis will never play again, after being counted on to play in their top-nine, All-Star defender Kris Letang has missed 10 games, the oft-injured Beau Bennett has struggled with health again and the hits keep coming.
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) February 4, 2016
It was announced today that Evgeni Malkin and Eric Fehr will both miss some time with injuries. Malkin, 29, leads the Penguins with 49 points in 49 games and has been battling a nagging lower-body injury, which he aggravated in their 6-5 win over the Ottawa Senators.
Eric Fehr, the former Washington Capital, signed with the Pittsburgh Penguins over the offseason on a very team friendly team. He’s been a defensive stalwart in the Penguins bottom-six and one of their best penalty killers. With center Nick Bonino still out, the Penguins penalty killing unit is running out of bodies.
Pittsburgh Penguins Injury History
Here’s what you need to know about the Penguins injury history.
— Cat Lover (@cats240000) May 9, 2015
Despite being over a year old, the Penguins have continued this trend. They’ve been one of the most injured teams in the NHL since 2009. And those injuries have been to their best players, not to bottom-six or bottom pairing players.
Early in the season when the Penguins weren’t playing very well, a lot of fans jokingly suggest that they should switch the two Penguins teams. They wanted the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins to play in Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Penguins to play in the NHL. Obviously, the two teams would never actually switch places, but these fans might be getting their wish.
Here’s a look at projected lines with the Penguins new injuries.
- Chris Kunitz – Sidney Crosby – Patric Hornqvist
- Carl Hagelin – Matt Cullen – Phil Kessel
- Conor Sheary- Oscar Sundqvist – Bryan Rust
- Tom Kuhnhackl – Kevin Porter – Scott Wilson
That’s right, the entire bottom-six of the Penguins for the next week or so will be comprised of AHL players. Some have loved what Rust, Sheary and Wilson have done this season in a limited NHL sample, but this is bad news for Pittsburgh. Kuhnhackl and Porter are less than stellar and have not provided anything spectacular. Many have compared them to players like Craig Adams and Tanner Glass.
Over the offseason, general manager Jim Rutherford wanted to improve the Penguins forward depth and had a dream for four lines that can score. It’s one thing to have a few players on your fourth line that are AHL call-ups, but having a full bottom-six of them is a cause for concern.
The current lineup is going to place a ton of pressure on the top-six, which is mostly Pittsburgh’s star players. It’s going to be a rough few games before the Penguins can get some players back in the lineup, but hopefully they will be back in time for the team’s playoff push.
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Michael Pityk is an analyst who has written for numerous sites since beginning his professional career. He’s acted as a credentialed member of the media for the Philadelphia Phillies, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Pirates and the Pittsburgh Penguins. His work has been featured in Sports Illustrated, The Sports Journal, MSN, PensLabyrinth, Montreal Hockey Talk, ESPN Pittsburgh, The Hockey Writers, Todays SlapShot and The Bleacher Report. He formerly was the editor of Pens Labyrinth and an analyst for The Sports Journal. Michael presently acts as an NHL Analyst for The Hockey Writers