Much has been made of Pittsburgh’s banged-up defense — currently without Kris Letang, Christian Ehrhoff, Olli Maatta and Derrick Pouliot — and tonight, the byproduct of those injuries will be on display as Taylor Chorney and Brian Dumoulin make their playoff debuts against the Rangers.
“Those guys have played a lot together throughout the year,” Pens head coach Mike Johnston said, explaining that Chorney and Dumoulin would play together as a defensive pair. “Putting those two together is natural for us.
“Dumoulin moves the puck well and can skate. Chorney’s playing at the top of his game right now.”
Kudos to Johnston for such a positive spin, but it’s hard to imagine he’s truly pleased at this development. Chorney, 27, has bounced around organizations over the last four years and, prior to playing seven games for Pittsburgh this season, hadn’t skated in the NHL since 2012.
Dumoulin, 23, has just 14 big-league games on his resume. He and Chorney have spent the majority of this season in AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
“It’s a really exciting time and place to play,” Dumoulin said, per the Penguins website. “A lot of nerves, excitement. It’ll be a lot of fun.”
If there’s a silver lining here, it’s that Johnston actually has six healthy defensemen at his disposal (which wasn’t always the case this season) and, with Dumoulin and Chorney as a pairing, he can limit their minutes and load up the top four of Paul Martin, Rob Scuderi, Ben Lovejoy and Ian Cole.
But that might be it as far as silver linings go.