Pittsburgh Penguins: The Injury Bug Continues Heading Into December

This season has been one of the most interesting seasons in a long time for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Pittsburgh has had to deal with a bunch of injuries so far this season. Their latest blow is defenseman Brian Dumoulin being out for the next eight weeks with an ankle injury.

He has been one of the best defensemen on the team so far this season. Dumoulin is a very good shutdown defense. He isn’t known for his offense much. In 23 games played so far this season, Brian Dumoulin has scored one goal and has recorded six assists so far this season. His plus/minus is 17.

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Justin Schultz, Sidney Crosby, Bryan Rust, Patric Hornqvist, and Nick Bjugstad are all out with injuries at the moment. Schultz is very close to returning. Rust is listed as day-to-day. Crosby won’t be back until either at the end of the month or at the beginning of the 2020 calendar year. Hornqvist may miss a significant amount of time. Bjugstad may not be back for a while as well.

This team has barely been healthy so far this season. In 21 games played so far this season, Justin Schultz has scored two goals and has recorded six assists. His plus/minus is -5.

In 17 games played so far this season, Sidney Crosby has scored five goals and has recorded 12 assists so far this season. His plus/minus is -1. Crosby has been missed in various moments on the ice and his presence will be felt once he returns.

In 14 games played so far this season, Bryan Rust has scored nine goals and has recorded eight assists so far this season. His plus/minus is 9.

In 20 games played so far this season, Patric Hornqvist has scored six goals and has recorded five assists so far this season. His plus/minus is 3.

Nick Bjugstad has played in 10 games so far this season. He has only scored one goal. His plus/minus is 2.

Despite all of the roster maneuvering this team has done so far this season, the coaching staff deserves a ton of credit for dealing with what they have to work with on a night-to-night basis.

Mike Sullivan has done a very good job getting his troops ready to play every night. Jacques Martin has been very good at coaching the penalty kill. Mark Recchi has been much better at coaching the power play. I have been very critical of Recchi as the power play coach, but it appears as if they are finally getting it together.

Pittsburgh has the 21st ranked power play in the NHL at 16.7 percent. They also have the 14th ranked penalty kill in the NHL at 81.7 percent. The penalty kill has been down as of late for some reason.

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Despite all of this, the Penguins would somehow be in the playoffs right now if the season ended today. They would be in the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. Pittsburgh’s record so far this season is 14-9-4 with 32 points. They have scored 93 goals and they have given up 78 goals so far this season.

The Pittsburgh Penguins would play the Boston Bruins in the playoffs if the season ended today. Pittsburgh is currently 11 points back of the Washington Capitals for first place in the Metropolitan Division.

The Penguins are one point back of the Carolina Hurricanes and they are three points back of the Philadelphia Flyers for the third spot in the Metropolitan Division. Pittsburgh is also six points back of the New York Islanders for the second spot in the Metropolitan Division.

The New York Rangers only trail the Penguins by three points for the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Toronto Maple Leafs are two points back, the Montreal Canadiens are four points back, the Tampa Bay Lightning are five points back, and the Columbus Blue Jackets are six points back for that second wild-card spot as well in the Eastern Conference.

It will be a tough stretch coming up for this hockey team. They will face the St. Louis Blues at home on Wednesday night.

The Pittsburgh Penguins will be playing 12 games this month. They only have one divisional game this month on Thursday, December 12 against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

They have a good but favorable schedule this month. Pittsburgh will play a ton of Western Conference teams this month like the Calgary Flames, the Vancouver Canucks, the Edmonton Oilers, the Arizona Coyotes, the Nashville Predators twice, and the Los Angeles Kings.

Jake Guentzel currently leads the team with 27 points so far this season. He has scored 15 goals and has recorded 12 assists. His plus/minus is 3.

Evgeni Malkin has only appeared in 16 games so far this season. He has scored six goals and has recorded 16 assists so far this season. His plus/minus is 9.

Jared McCann has been one of the players that have been stepping up so far this season. He has scored nine goals and has recorded eight assists. His plus/minus is 11.

Kris Letang has appeared in 19 games so far this season. He has scored seven goals and has recorded nine assists so far this season. Letang’s plus/minus is 6.

Dominik Kahun has shown massive improvement with this team so far this season. He has scored seven goals and has recorded eight assists so far this season. His plus/minus is 8.

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Brandon Tanev has scored five goals and has recorded eight assists so far this season. His plus/minus is 1.

John Marino has scored two goals and has recorded nine assists so far this season. His plus/minus is 9.

Goaltending might become an issue with this hockey team.

Matt Murray has not been the same so far this season. Murray has been pulled from games more often than the coaching staff would have liked. In 20 games played so far this season, his record is 9-5-4 with a .897 save percentage and a 2.84 GAA, along with one shutout.

Tristan Jarry has been better and he might be better off being the starting goalie in the long run. His record so far this season is 5-4 with a .929 save percentage and a 2.27 GAA. Jarry has started in seven games and he has appeared in nine games so far this season.

I wonder if this franchise has ever thought about calling up goaltender Casey DeSmith from the AHL (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton).

DeSmith was competing for the backup goaltending job in training camp. He did not win it. Casey DeSmith had to be placed on waivers because he was on a one-way contract. DeSmith will be with the organization for a couple of more years. The last year of his contract will be in 2021-2022.

It will be interesting to see what General Manager Jim Rutherford does when it comes to signing Matt Murray or Tristan Jarry this offseason.

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Casey DeSmith was just named the AHL Goaltender of the Month. So far this season in the AHL, he has appeared in 15 games. DeSmith’s record is 10-4 with a .922 save percentage and a 2.41 GAA, along with two shutouts.

He appeared in 36 games last season with the Pittsburgh Penguins. His record was 15-11-5 with a .916 save percentage and a 2.75 GAA, along with three shutouts.

It will be interesting to see where the Pittsburgh Penguins go from here. Pittsburgh needs to stay afloat in the standings until Sidney Crosby and some other players get back healthy. Their chances of getting back to the postseason for a 14th consecutive season could be in jeopardy at some point if they go on a massive losing streak.

How do you feel about the Pittsburgh Penguins heading into December? Can they overcome the injuries? Leave a comment below.

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Follow Glenn on Twitter @glennkaplan13.

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