I wonder how Penguins coach Mike Sullivan performs in games of Jenga.
That’s essentially the task Sullivan has faced for a few weeks now: He must keep the Penguins upright as injuries slowly pull one counted-upon piece after another out of the lineup.
Friday’s morning skate brought more bad news: Center Evgeni Malkin will miss the matchup with New Jersey at PPG Paints Arena with a nagging upper-body injury, and defenseman Ron Hainsey will miss a significant amount of time with an upper-body injury that leaves him “week to week.”
That means Malkin, depending on the severity of his injury, and Hainsey will join Olli Maatta, Trevor Daley, Kris Letang, Bryan Rust and Carl Hagelin on the sideline for some portion of this critical stretch run for the Penguins, who continue to jostle with Washington and Columbus for Metropolitan Division and Eastern Conference supremacy.
Only a slew of timely trades and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton call-ups seem to have spared Sullivan from crying out “Jenga!” this season and arguably since the start of his tenure. But even the most stoic of leaders have their breaking points, right?
PENGUINS’ PROBABLE LINEUP
= Sullivan did not give Malkin’s upper-body injury a timetable but said the Penguins will know more in the next 24 hours. That suggests it might be a “day to day” kind of thing. I’m sure the team is wary of any timetable terms right now because of the fallout from Kris Letang’s situation.
= Patric Hornqvist (concussion) participated in all aspects of the pregame skate, and all signs point to him playing against New Jersey.
= Hainsey is week to week with a lower-body injury. Just a really bad break for a guy who gave the Penguins something they needed and went years without injury trouble.
= Nothing new from Sullivan on any of the other injured Penguins. None were skating right before the Penguins’ workout on Friday, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not doing things elsewhere or at other times.