As the Pittsburgh Penguins took to the ice for their morning skate in advance of tonight’s pivotal game 4 matchup against the Washington Capitals, there were some expected and unexpected absences.
Not skating were the obvious names: Conor Sheary and Sidney Crosby. Both were sidelined with concussions in game 3 and it’s not clear when they’ll be back in the lineup. More curious though, were the absences of players like Evgeni Malkin, Chris Kunitz, Carl Hagelin, Matt Cullen, Brian Dumoulin and Ron Hainsey. Head coach Mike Sullivan has not yet commented on the condition of any of the above mentioned players, but if the Pens find themselves without their services, they’ll be hard pressed to rebound from a hard game 3 loss.
The potential loss of Malkin, in particular, would be devastating for the Penguins. After posting a remarkable 72 points in 62 regular season games, Malkin has taken his game to another level in the postseason with 15 points in just 8 games. Regardless of whether Crosby is in the Pens lineup or not, the team leans so heavily on Malkin that a potential injury might spell the end of their run. Then again, they’ve managed to persevere despite without the services of their number one goaltender and number one defenseman, so don’t count them out until it’s all said and done.