It’s probably wrong to say that it’s a good thing three of the Penguins’ stars are out of the lineup for a good portion of the near future.
But recent history says it might be for the best.
One can’t forget that Sergei Gonchar, who will sit anywhere from four to six weeks with a broken wrist, sat out more than half of last season with a separated shoulder. The year before that, Penguins’ captain Sidney Crosby missed significant time during the regular season with a high ankle sprain — as did Marc-Andre Fleury.
The result of all those injuries was positive — one ended in a Stanley Cup Finals appearance and the other a Stanley Cup victory.
These recent injuries almost come as a welcome reminder of what happens to this team when it faces adversity — it just gets stronger.
It’s sad to say it, but the fast start and best record in the National Hockey League was worrisome. All to often a team breezes through the regular season, only to be upset in the playoffs (see the San Jose Sharks and Boston Bruin of 2008-09).
Watching the Penguins win by large margins was great, but most of the time they did so seemingly far too easily.
Now they’ll be tested, that’s for sure.
There is no captain on the power play and arguably the best goal scorer on the team is gone. The responsibilities will now be dispersed throughout the team, forcing other players to step in to new roles and new challenges.
It can only help.
Aside for the high-profile injuries the last few years, there were others that helped the Penguins to the top.
In the Penguins’ first playoff appearance since the lockout, Crosby played a good part of the end of the season and the entire five-game loss to Ottawa with a broken foot. In 2008-09, Evgeni Malkin was clearly injured and run down from the Eastern Conference Finals on.
We’ve seen countless other role players dip in and out of the lineup as well. They all came back stronger from them.
Such is the life of a hockey player, with injuries being a routine part of the game.
What’s not routine is having each and every player step up and fill their expected role during another’s absence.
That’s what the Penguins have done and this is their chance to do it again.
So yea, I’ve got to say I’m happy Gonchar and Malkin are on the shelf for now.
It’s early in the season and these guys have already proved they’re a force just 12 games in to the season. When they come out of this, they’ll be even more dangrous.
Chris | PPT