PITTSBURGH — The Penguins had been left in disbelief Wednesday after two extra of their gamers got here down with COVID-19, giving their revolving door of a roster one other whirl.
Sidney Crosby and Brian Dumoulin have each been confirmed positive for the virus and had been positioned on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol listing. That information was introduced an hour after Kris Letang and Bryan Rust returned to a workforce observe setting.
That now makes it eight Penguins confirmed positive within the final 5 and a half weeks. Marcus Pettersson and Chad Ruhwedel are at the moment sidelined, too.
“It’s tough. I’m not going to lie. We are trying to do all the right things,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan mentioned, talking with a subdued tone, after observe. “It’s been a little bit discouraging because I know how disciplined our group is. … We’re trying to do everything we can to mitigate the risk. And yet we’re still getting it.”
One of the newest was Crosby, the face of the franchise and probably the most well-known participant within the NHL. The celebrity heart displayed delicate signs Wednesday, simply 4 days after he returned to the lineup following offseason surgical procedure on his left wrist. He missed the workforce’s first seven video games as he labored his method again.
Early Wednesday afternoon, Sullivan mentioned that every thing occurred so rapidly after Crosby and Dumoulin had been confirmed positive earlier than observe that he hadn’t but gotten an opportunity to name his captain. He deliberate to take action later within the day.
“I’m sure he’s discouraged. He’s worked extremely hard to get to this point and we were all so excited about getting him back in the lineup … and this just puts another roadblock in front of him,” Sullivan mentioned. “But we’ll control what we can here. We’ve got capable people. And we’re hopeful that Sid will return soon.”
Up entrance, Jeff Carter skated in Crosby’s previous spot between Jake Guentzel and Danton Heinen on the highest line. The second line was Jason Zucker, Evan Rodrigues and Kasperi Kapanen. Sam Lafferty might draw again into the lineup with Crosby in poor health.
Dumoulin, one other front-line participant, was asymptomatic Wednesday morning.
His absence left the Penguins with out three of the six defensemen who had been of their opening lineup. On Sunday, Ruhwedel and Pettersson had been each positioned on the COVID-19 listing. Sullivan mentioned they’ve skilled delicate signs however are enhancing. He added that Ruhwedel felt nicely sufficient to experience an train bike Tuesday.
“Our depth is being challenged at that position in particular. I always say to the guys that the positive side when a couple of guys are out it means other guys are in,” Sullivan mentioned. “It’s going to give guys an opportunity to step up and make a positive impact on the team. They’re going to play a more significant role.”
Pierre-Olivier Joseph is on observe to make his season debut Thursday in opposition to the Philadelphia Flyers. Juuso Riikola and Mark Friedman will play. The Penguins might additionally add one other defenseman from their American Hockey League membership.
But they might probably get an enormous enhance if Letang is cleared to return.
The All-Star defenseman was confirmed positive for the virus on Oct. 25 and he has missed 4 video games, the final three of them regulation losses at dwelling.
“I pretty much had all of the symptoms. Congestion. Headaches. Pressure in the forehead. Coughing. Loss of taste and smell. Body aches. A lot of pain in the lower back and stuff like that,” the defenseman mentioned. “That lasted about four or five days. And then after that it was just getting better and better every day.”
Letang obtained again on the ice Monday. He completed one other particular person exercise Tuesday in Cranberry, saying that he skated at a excessive depth for an hour and a half. During Wednesday’s observe, he seemed to be all-systems-go. He skated on the highest pair with Mike Matheson and was again operating the No. 1 energy play.
Sullivan was happy with what he noticed from Letang, saying he had a very good observe, and he left open the chance that he might play Thursday. Letang plans to participate within the morning skate at PPG Paints Arena and can then seek the advice of with Sullivan and the medical employees to find out if he is able to return Thursday evening.
“Today was another step in the right direction,” he mentioned. “I felt pretty good.”
Unfortunately, simply three weeks into the season, you might construct collectively a robust 4-on-4 squad with all the fellows who’ve already been on the COVID-19 listing.
Crosby, Guentzel, Carter and Zach Aston-Reese are the 4 Penguins forwards who’ve gotten the virus. The blue-liners who contracted it embrace Letang, Dumoulin, Pettersson and Ruhwedel. No. 1 goalie Tristan Jarry missed a observe because of COVID-19 worries however fortunately his end result turned out to be a false positive.
Last season, the Penguins didn’t have a single confirmed case of COVID-19.
“I said to them last year, ‘We can do all of the right things and still get it,’ And that’s the reality, I think, of the world that we live in right now,” Sullivan mentioned.
Every participant on the Penguins roster has been vaccinated. Letang, the workforce’s NHLPA participant consultant, mentioned a few of them have gotten their booster, too.
“I feel we have a safe group. Sometimes, you see a guy that was really, really careful and he ends up getting it and you have no idea how he did it,” Letang mentioned. “So there is a little bit of disbelief there. Like, it’s kind of crazy. I don’t know.”
The Penguins try to maintain their spirits up as they watch participant after participant battle COVID-19 or rehab accidents — or each in Crosby’s case. Obviously, the human aspect is a priority, particularly with teammates who’ve households. But this has depleted the roster, too. We are nonetheless ready to see the Penguins at full energy.
“I don’t think any one or two players will replace these guys,” Sullivan mentioned, referring to Crosby and Dumoulin. “It’s more about being more committed as a team. It’s about paying attention to details. It’s about relying on one another and trusting each other and trusting the structure and … playing within ourselves.”
Sullivan added: “Our expectation is that we’re going to continue to win.”
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