After sitting out the Penguins’ Game 7 win over the Washington Capitals, it seems likely that forward Carl Hagelin will remain out of the lineup on Saturday night when they open the Eastern Conference Finals against the Ottawa Senators.
Even though Hagelin took part in the team’s optional morning skate, he remained on the ice after it ended for extra work along with Tom Kuhnhackl, Cameron Gaunce and Derrick Pouliot, seemingly indicating that he will be among the team’s scratches. Hagelin and Kuhnhackl, regulars in the Penguins’ lineup for most of the season, were replaced by Carter Rowney and Scott Wilson in their 2-0 win in Washington on Wednesday.
Hagelin missed the the last month of the regular season, as well as the first-round of the playoffs, due to a lower body injury.
He returned in Game 2 of their second-round series against the Capitals but never really seemed to be 100 percent. He never played more than 12:48 in the five games he played, and was limited to just 9:19 in their Game 6 loss.
Penguins coach Mike Sullivan was asked on Saturday if lineup continuity at this point in the season is a luxury, or something you can not really expect given the grind of the postseason.
“We’ve got some moving parts,” said Sullivan. “We believe we have a lot of depth within our team, and we can utilize guys in different ways to help our team win. So all of these guys that have been in our lineup here throughout the course of the Playoffs have played significant minutes for us during the regular season. They’ve all been a big part of this team’s ability to get to this point.
“So we believe, as a coaching staff, that we’ll lean on all of these guys to continue to help us win. We can only dress 12 forwards and 6 defensemen — or 18 skaters and 2 goalies, I should say. But certainly, our team is bigger than that. These guys, whether they’re in the lineup or they’re not in the lineup, they’re everybody bit as important to helping this team win.”
Rowney and Wilson did not add to the offense in Game 7 but they did bring some fresh legs to the Penguins’ lineup and gave them some strong shifts from the fourth line.