The Pittsburgh Penguins are without forwards Sidney Crosby (jaw), Evgeni Malkin (shoulder), James Neal (concussion), and defenseman Paul Martin (thumb), but they still defeated the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday.
In fact, the Penguins have now won 20 of their last 22 contests despite a number of major injuries along the way. They’ve all-but secured the top seed in the Eastern Conference, so they might as well let their injured stars take their time in their respective recoveries.
“There’s benefit in playing hockey games … when you haven’t played for a stretch of games,” Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said in a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review report. “But we’re talking about players who are good hockey players and can get in games and be factors in games, (and) I think they’re going to do that in their first game whenever it is; be that Game 47 (of the regular season) or Game 1 (of the playoffs).”
Bylsma used defenseman Kris Letang as an example. Letang was out for 10 of 11 contests, but didn’t miss a beat when he returned on April 11. In fact, he has a goal and four points in his last three contests (Update: A scoring change gives Letang five points in three games, according to the Penguins).
“There’s going to be no thought of rushing those players back to get an opportunity to play that game before the playoffs,” Bylsma concluded.
Meanwhile, Malkin is participating in practices while the other three continue their on-ice workouts.