by PuckStopsHere on 09/22/08 at 02:06 PM ET
The pre-season is barely underway, but one team already has a significant issue they will have to overcome at the start of the season. The Pittsburgh Penguins will open the 2008/09 season without the services of their two top defencemen. Ryan Whitney had surgery on his left foot in August and should be out three to five month and Sergei Gonchar suffered a separated should in Saturday’s pre-season opener against the Tampa Bay Lightning and should miss a few weeks. This is a significant blow to the Penguins. Likely, it will slow them out of the gate when the season opens. You cannot overcome two big defensive injuries like that with any ease.
Pittsburgh had a short summer, due to their appearance in the Stanley Cup finals, and that alone might have slowed their start. Injuries to their top two defencemen will make it even harder. Pittsburgh hopes that a young player like Alex Goligoski or Kris Letang will step forward and establish himself as a legitimate number one defenceman early in the season, but that probably cannot happen over night. All teams face bumps in the road over a long NHL season. Pittsburgh’s first one is coming very early.
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