Not having the “two-headed monster” is a huge loss for the Pittsburgh Penguins in the pre-season and beginning of the season. But focusing on other players will fill the void until Crosby and Malkin come back.
Last week, the Pittsburgh Penguins announced that Sidney Crosby had undergone wrist surgery and would be out for six weeks. This, along with the fact that Evgeni Malkin is out too, makes for a tricky situation for the team. However, the Penguins have a few players that they can lean on until Crosby and Malkin come back from recovery.
Even though it may only be a week after the beginning of the season that Crosby is projected to come back, that first week is important to set the tone for the rest of the season. While a miracle is possible that he might recover faster than expected, we should all be ready for the Penguins to have to rely on other players. This is especially true since Malkin’s return is still unknown, and we won’t know until the beginning of training camp, according to Ron Hextall.
The first player that the Penguins should start to rely on is Jeff Carter. Carter was acquired last season at the trade deadline from the LA Kings, and he really came into his own on the team during the second half of the season and the post season. At one point, he had the second highest goals in the first round of the postseason, behind Nathan Mackinnon, until the Penguins lost to the New York Islanders in the first round.
Jeff Carter is the obvious option to fall back on while waiting for Crosby and Malkin to return. He has the on ice presence and the skill and caliber to make up for the devestating loss the team is dealing with. With Crosby and Malkin gone, it’s likely we’ll see him up on the first line with Jake Guenztel and Bryan Rust or Evan Rodrigues.
You can also expect to see the Pittsburgh Penguins rely on Teddy Bluegar and Evan Rodrigues as well. Rodrigues has been a consistent right winger on the Penguins, but also has the versatility to play center if needed. This could also be Teddy Bluegar’s chance to shine, as a way to bring him up from the fourth line and give him the chance to show what he’s capable of in this new season.
As you can see, this void is regrettable, but it gives others a chance to show their abilities on a team without Crosby and Malkin. It might even show the not-to-distant future of what a team without the two will look like.