When it comes to injuries and the Pittsburgh Penguins, the question does not seem to be if, but rather when and who.
A Penguins roster that has been struggling to find consistency all season took another serious blow last night and this morning, when it was announced that forwards Tanner Glass and Beau Bennett would both miss significant time with wrist/hand injuries.
Glass, who sustained his injury attempting to block a shot against Montreal, is expected to miss three to four weeks, while Bennett is projected to be out of the lineup at least eight weeks with a suspected broken wrist or hand (GM Ray Shero has not specified as of yet).
Add these two setbacks to an already lengthy and growing list of Penguins on injured reserve, and it becomes obvious that the Pens have reached a vital crossroads in their season, and one that must be handled with the utmost importance and attention.
As it stands right now, Pittsburgh’s bottom-six is in my opinion, one of, if not the single worst in the entire NHL.
Instead of building a legitimate bottom-group of depth forwards that can grind it out and chip in offensively when the Penguins big guns get shut down, Pittsburgh has instead chosen to go with a carousel of AHL call-ups rotated around Brandon Sutter and (sometimes) Jussi Jokinen. They serve the immediate needs of the team by filling in for injuries, however anyone who knows a whit about hockey knows that they are not a viable long-term solution to the problem.
In fairness, I probably shouldn’t say bottom-six, because the fourth line of Joe Vitale, Craig Adams and Tanner Glass has actually been pretty successful at blocking shots and grinding it out against the opposition’s top units. No, my problem lies with the third line, which has for all intents and purposes been an absolute black hole almost every time they step on the ice this year.
Brandon Sutter is no Jordan Staal, but he does have skill. He has shown that he has the ability to pick corners when he wants, and at 6-foot-2, he is no pushover when protecting the puck. However he has been left out in the proverbial no-mans land for much of the season, having dealt with constant lineup changes and almost zero consistency with his line mates. Sutter is a useful and more than capable third line center, but putting Matt D’Agostini and Brian Gibbons on his wings is more or less a waste of his talent. It’s no wonder he’s struggled to produce on a consistent level so far this year.
The third line has and will continue to be the Achilles Heel of this team until they find guys that can produce on a relatively consistent level, and for that to happen there needs to be a major shake up with this team, and soon.
Is it too late to get Matt Cooke back?
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