With just two games remaining in the regular season and a first-round playoff matchup with heated rival Philadelphia looming, the Pittsburgh Penguins decided to play things safe on Thursday, announcing Matt Niskanen (upper-body), James Neal (lower-body) and Steve Sullivan (lower-body) would not face the Rangers.
“All the players at this point in time are expected to be ready to start the playoffs,” head coach Dan Bylsma told the Penguins Report. “They certainly won’t be playing tonight and are uncertain for the weekend. But they’re expected to be returning for the playoffs when they start.”
While it’s unclear what ailments are plaguing Neal and Sullivan, Niskanen’s injury is much easier to pinpoint. He left in the first period of Tuesday’s 5-3 win at Boston after a collision with Bruins forward Dan Paille.
(FF to 1:00)
The Penguins recalled Brian Strait from AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to replace Niskanen.
As for how Pittsburgh will line up without Neal and Sullivan? Here are the line rushes from this morning’s skate:
Chris Kunitz-Evgeni Malkin-Richard Park
Matt Cooke-Jordan Staal-Tyler Kennedy
Eric Tangradi-Sidney Crosby-Pascal Dupuis
Arron Asham-Joe Vitale-Craig Adams
So yes, it does appear Park and Tangradi are the big winners.