The early part of the season has been pretty tough on the Pittsburgh Penguins. They’ve started their season off 1-3 and after losing a tough one to the Maple Leafs last night, the day after brings about an update on the injury status of defenseman Zbynek Michalek.
Coach Dan Bylsma updated the status of Michalek saying he would miss the next 2-4 weeks with an “upper body injury.” To read through the very non-descriptive manner of his injury, it’s apparently a shoulder ailment for the former Coyotes blue liner. The Pens defense is already dealing with the wonky groin of Brooks Orpik as that’s kept him out of the lineup of late. In their stead, virtual no-namers like Derek Engelland, Ben Lovejoy and Andrew Hutchinson are getting the call to help steady the Pens in the meantime.
The lack of solid defense for the Pens is also showing its effects on goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury whose stats have taken an early season plunge into the dumpster. Fleury is 0-3-0 with a .853 save percentage and a goals against average of 3.41. It’s obviously early and those numbers are awful, but inconsistent and very young defense in front of him aren’t helping matters. If you think this makes for a good time to panic in Pittsburgh… Relax, things will get better. No one’s season is in trouble after four games.
Here’s your Stanley Cup playoffs schedule for tonight
People love star athletes because they can do amazing things. Even so, people also often love to see the occasional moment of weakness.
Aside from the occasional injury hiccup, Sidney Crosby‘s been as advertised after being a super-hyped No. 1 overall pick. He has that “Golden Goal,” two Olympic gold medals, a Stanley Cup ring and plenty of individual accolades.
Not many people expected the Capitals-Penguins series to be over in five games, but there’s a chance that could happen before the end of the week. After their 3-2 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh on Wednesday night, the Capitals are one loss away from being bounced from the 2016 playoffs.
The Capitals failed to take advantage of the fact that Kris Letang was suspended for Game 4 because of his hit on Marcus Johansson in Game 3. Letang is now set to return for Game 5 which makes Washington’s task even more difficult.
“We didn’t take advantage of it,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said, per NHL.com. “One thing I said to the guys coming into this, and we talked it about it yesterday, was when Kris got his suspension, is that they’re going to rally. Their whole team, their forwards are going to come back. They talked about they didn’t play their best game (in Game 3) and now they have Letang out and everybody had to step up on their side, and I thought they did.”
If you look back at the regular season, the Capitals were head and shoulders above the rest of the Eastern Conference and the league for a good portion of the season. Washington finished 11 points ahead of second place Dallas in the league standings and it looked like they had the team that would finally take them over the hump.
Although things look gloomy, it’s important to realize that the series is far from over. Many NHLers would tell you that the fourth win is always the hardest to come by in a best-of-seven series, and by no means is anyone expecting the Capitals to wave the white flag.
“Whenever you lose a game, it’s obviously an opportunity missed, but it had nothing to do with them missing some of their players,” said Caps forward Jay Beagle, per NHL.com. “We’re looking forward. Our back’s against the wall and the most important game of our lives is coming up.”
Game 5 goes Saturday night in Washington.
PHT Morning Skate: Shane Doan takes a (friendly) shot at the Miracle on Ice