Report: Daley could return to Penguins lineup for Game 3

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A reinforcement could be on the way for the Penguins’ blue line during the Eastern Conference Final.

According to a report from Nick Kypreos of Sportsnet during Game 1 of the series between the Penguins and Ottawa Senators, Pittsburgh defenseman Trevor Daley could potentially return by Game 3.

Daley has missed the last three games for Pittsburgh, after he was hurt last round on a hit from Tom Wilson.

“There might be some help for that depleted blue line on Pittsburgh,” said Kypreos on Saturday. “It’s believed his lower-body injury has rebounded a little better in the last week and he is possible to reappear for Game 3.

“The perception is the production has been down for Pittsburgh, but actually guys it’s probably equal to where it was a year ago, which speaks volumes for guys like Schultz, Hainsey and Cole and their contributions so far in these playoffs.”

That the Penguins got by the Capitals without the injured Kris Letang on the blue line is impressive, even though Pittsburgh’s group of defenders did struggle in Games 5 and 6 against Washington. Instead, they’ve relied upon the likes of Justin Schultz, Brian Dumoulin and 36-year-old Ron Hainsey to play heavy minutes.

Hainsey, playing in the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time in his career, had a key role in setting up Evgeni Malkin‘s tying goal Saturday, before the Penguins lost in overtime and the Sens took the series lead.

“Some guys, we’ve asked them to play more significant roles,” said coach Mike Sullivan prior to Game 1. “I think these guys are giving us everything they have back there. They’re blocking shots, they’re defending hard, they’re helping us come out of our zone.”