With Paul Martin set to miss some time due to a hand injury - per Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review - the Pittsburgh Penguins have more questions regarding their defense heading down the stretch.
Here we go again.
As if injuries are strange to see amongst the Pens’ lineup.
I understand hockey players get banged up throughout the season, but for Pittsburgh, it’s getting a little ridiculous.
Already without Kris Letang for at least six weeks, and no clear-cut indication he’ll return this season after suffering a stroke, the loss of Martin adds to the issue. Arguably two of their top blueliners out for an extended period of time, the Pens’ defense continues to take a pounding, wondering what their starting-six will eventually be come playoff time.
Martin is reportedly expected to be ready for the postseason – per Rossi – however, given the uncertainty surrounding the severity of his current injury, who really knows if that will be the case. With the way the ‘burgh brigade is gaining ailments, there’s bound to be another player who will join the shelf.
Now, the one aspect about the Pens is their depth is endless – we witnessed that earlier this season when nearly the entire Wilkes-Barre/Scranton team was called up. And while Letang and Martin will be greatly missed, it means Robert Bortuzzo and Deryk Engelland get a chance to step-up.
Of course, those two have already been seeing vast ice-time due to Letang’s injury, but now they’ll get more consistent game-action. Personally, I think they’re great fillers, given their size and tenacious styles. The only problem is their inexperience with the postseason, which will also be the case with Olli Maatta.
However, realizing Maatta’s Olympic performance, he should adapt accordingly.
In the playoffs, the great teams own dominant defensive fronts – something the Pens have had trouble in recent attempts. Understandably, the goaltending hasn’t been good either, but nonetheless, defense in its entirety will be ever important to their Stanley Cup hopes.
It’s very possible Letang could miss the rest of the campaign, and even though he’s had his struggles this season, his presence is still relevant to their success. Martin, although allegedly suppose to be ready by April, has endured a long list of injuries this year, making it hard to rely on him to stay healthy.
Pittsburgh’s entire lineup is in doubt right now. They should be reinserting Beau Bennett, Taylor Pyatt, and Joe Vitale after the break, which will create more questions.
It’ll be intriguing to see how the defense looks, and holds up.