by Tony on 03/24/11 at 03:48 PM ET
Again, apologies for the lack of posts beyond pasting embedded clips and press releases. Just not my year writing-wise.
Slowly but surely, your Pittsburgh Penguins are getting healthier.
This past week saw the return of forward Arron Asham, just in time to relieve Matt Cooke as it turned out. Brooks Orpik is practicing with the team as his broken finger is nearly healed. Once Orpik is back in the lineup, which is looking like next week, that will make the Pens’ defensive corps back to full strength. Eric Tangradi is now skating with the team as well having recovered from the concussion caused by the Trevor Gillies elbow. Mark Letestu has been skating on his own after dealing with an upper-body injury. Even Mike Comrie, who has only appeared in 16 games with the Penguins before having hip surgery, is back on the ice and getting his conditioning back in shape. Nick Johnson is farther away, still experiencing concussion symptoms. And, oh yeah, that Crosby guy is ramping up the intensity of his workouts, both on and off ice. Not coming a moment too soon, I might add.
But as players eventually get back to the lineup, it makes Penguins’ Head Coach Dan Bylsma’s job that much tougher.
Let’s fast forward three weeks from now, and the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs start:
- In this scenario that’s entirely speculation, Sidney Crosby, Mark Letestu, Nick Johnson and Mike Comrie have all returned to be at least available to play.
- Evgeni Malkin and Matt Cooke are unavailable.
If that were to come to fruition, and it’s certainly plausible that it could, the Penguins would have 18 forwards that are currently on the roster. Of course, that’s possible because the Penguins have six players still on IR, including Orpik. Even if you remove Johnson from the equation, maybe his concussion is more severe, that would still leave 17. By the way, I’m counting on Crosby to return. Frankly, if Crosby does not return, most of this is moot anyway. Their playoff run won’t be long without him.
The natural answer is merely to send some players back down to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. But with the trade deadline acquisitions of forwards James Neal, Matt Niskanen and Alex Kovalev, the Pens’ roster is more cluttered, so to speak. The question soon becomes whom to send down.
Has Dustin Jeffrey done anything to “earn” a trip back to W-B/S? Maybe Chris Conner? Maybe Eric Tangradi? Johnson?
With the Baby Pens preparing for the playoffs themselves, just how many of the youngsters will GMRS and HCDB keep in Pittsburgh. even if a few of them may be in the press box (eating those hard
pretzels, I might add) for most of the games once more players come back?
But here’s a bigger question: Will HCDB dive into his virtual plethora of grinders to scratch in lieu of those youngsters that have been more offensively productive?
And let’s not forget the salary cap implications. Remember, with both Crosby and Malkin on the shelf, the Penguins had a boatload of money available to acquire Neal, Niskanen and Kovalev. But if Crosby comes back, the Pens may have to send a player or two simply for cap purposes.
As the Penguins get healthier and healthier, take a close look who HCDB is putting in his lineup and who’s getting scratched.
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Originally at Blogspot, then at MVN, TheConfluence has over 1500 articles reporting Penguins news as well as jumping on my soapbox to opine constructive Penguins criticism.
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