It’s sort of a typical thing among Pittsburgh sports teams to take all the talent and experience that has been given to them over the years and wipe it away at the beginning of the new season.
Though for current circumstances, there’s less blame on the players themselves. Rather, the blame can be put on the injury bug, and it’s spreading like wildfire.
Pittsburgh lost a few core players coming out of the preseason. But they went into their opening game with an almost perfect roster, the exception being Bryan Rust, who remained on IR during the start of their season opener Thursday.
Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins came out short in their first game of the season, losing 4–1 against the Buffalo Sabres. The lone goal came from Evgeni Malkin, who was looking to have a powerful bounce back season, but after facing an unknown injury in Columbus a few days later, Malkin did not return. Geno suffered a soft tissue injury to his leg but is expected to return within a month.
An injury this early in the season is, in a way, a good thing. Well, not good, but it’s better to happen now, as opposed to closer to playoffs. Regardless of injury, teams are beginning to find their chemistry going into the second week of the young season.
Pittsburgh had a great bounce back game, defeating the Columbus Blue Jackets 7–2. Jared McCann and Patric Hornqvist tallied two goals each. Kris Letang and Marcus Petterson managed to score a goal, adding to the scoresheet and giving a little more credit to the d-men. The last goal of the night came from Teddy Blueger, who is looking to have a promising start to the season.
Blueger looks hungry and aggressive to help his team win. That’s everything the club could ask from him. His eagerness could translate to the younger guys they’ve brought up or traded for. In recent days, the starting lineups are getting younger every day.
The Penguins played against the Winnipeg Jets Tuesday with 11 forwards and seven defensemen. Not to say the possibility of winning is down the drain with this strategy; there are just a lot of roster scrambles with the high percent of injured players, veterans and young stars alike. Winnipeg took the win in PPG Paints Arena 4–1, while the Penguins’ list of inured players continues to stack up.
Alex Galchenyuk, Evgeni Malkin, Rust and Nick Bjugstad are all listed on the IR, and Patric Hornqvist sat out of practice Wednesday. Even though this Pittsburgh team is going through a run of injuries, there is no sign of anyone on the team quitting. It’ll just take some time for the new guys from the AHL to combine with the Pens of the NHL and get the flow of the game.
The roster spots have gone through vigorous changes from their win against the Blue Jackets Saturday. There are 82 games in a season, and are going into their fourth game with a record of 1–2.
Pittsburgh had difficulty getting shots to the back of the net against Jets goalkeeper Connor Hellebuyck. Those stats may stray better or worse for the Penguins who are going up against some talented goalies the next few games.
Pittsburgh is looking for a game to bounce back in, especially one where they need their younger guys to step up to the challenge. Even though injured players do return, eventually, there must be a passion and will to win. The young and quick youth could be beneficial to this Pens team.