If you’re a sports fan living in the Pittsburgh area, odds are you’ll be avoiding all sports coverage for the next several weeks. As if the Pittsburgh Pirates disappearing down the stretch wasn’t enough of a disappointment, the Denver Broncos ended the Pittsburgh Steelers year in dramatic fashion.
Hey, at least you’ve still got the Penguins, right? Well … I’ve got some bad news for you. Pittsburgh’s list of injured skaters has some noteworthy recent additions.
We’re all well aware of the disappointing situation that is Sidney Crosby’s injury. This article won’t dive further into a subject that has been repeatedly touched upon.
That being said, the Penguins are going to truly be put to the test in coming weeks as both James Neal and Jordan Staal are set to miss significant time. Staal is expected to miss four to six weeks after injuring ligaments in his left knee. Meanwhile, Neal is expected to miss several weeks after suffering a broken bone in his foot when he blocked a shot in the team’s contest against New Jersey.
Even the neutral fan has to empathize with those in Pittsburgh. Staal and Neal are two of the club’s top players. Staal has made a name for himself as one of the league’s best two-way forwards while Neal has been one of the most reliable scoring threats in Pittsburgh this season.
Unfortunately for the Penguins, the injuries don’t end there. Craig Adams, a key member of the club’s PK unit, injured his knee in Sunday’s practice. As of the date of this article, it isn’t quite clear just how much time Adams will miss but things look pretty grim based on immediate reports.
All of these recent injuries are added to the already impressive list that includes Sidney Crosby, Kris Letang, Arron Asham and Dustin Jeffrey.
Realistically, do the Penguins have enough depth to remain in the playoff hunt until their stars return? Perhaps a better question, does any club have that sort of depth?
The Penguins got off to a flying start only to see their season come crashing down around them. To date, the Penguins sit in the 8th spot in the Eastern Conference and will have an enormous challenge on their hands to remain in contention with so many key pieces out of the lineup. From a neutral position, it’ll be interesting to see which Penguins rise to the challenge and which get lost in the shuffle as Pittsburgh scrambles to patch their depleted roster.
The pressure will be on for Evgeni Malkin. Will he rise to the occasion? It certainly won’t be easy as he likely will be the main target for opposing teams – shut down Malkin and make someone else beat you.
We feel for you, Pittsburgh residents. The next few weeks/months won’t be easy. At the very least, we know Tim Tebow can’t skate. (He can’t, can he?)
Photo courtesy of SportsNet.ca