Just when we thought Jordan Staal was going to make his debut for the Penguins tonight, Pens fans find out the Staal will be on the shelf for another 6 weeks with a fractured hand. Staal was hit in the hand by the puck during practice on Monday during practice and underwent surgery to repair it. Staal had been sidelined with an infection in his foot affter surgery to repair torn tendons from the playoff series against the Montreal Canadiens where P.K. Subban accidentally spiked Staal’s foot with his skate.
How will the Pens respond to the latest injury in what seems to be a season full of them? Who’s going to be the man to step up and take over Staal’s role on this team until he returns? As of print, the Pens are tied with the Flyers for first place in the Atlantice Division with 13 points thanks to solid defense and great play in Goal by Brent Johnson. If the Pens stay atop the division, look for the these guys to be part of the reason:
Mark Letestu – Has there been a more surprising player this season for the Pens? Letestu feared he wouldn’t make the final cut for the Pens but has excelled so far this year. Nhl.com has him as the leading candidate for Rookie of the Year so far with 7 points including 4 goals. He has cooled down lately but if Letestu can get back to his scoring ways, it will help ease the loss of Staal.
Mike Comrie – Mr. Hilary Duff was thought to be one of the bargain signings of the year in the NHL for the Pens. The former 35 goal scorer was in prime position entering the season on a line with Evgeni Malkin, but has done nothing but disappoint. Now is the time for Comrie to earn his paycheck with Staal out. With his goal scoring ability that he has and the hustle that we have seen, Comrie will be able to take some of the weight off of Malkin and Sidney Crosby.
Zybnek Michalek – ‘Z’ may be the best shut down defender that not many people know about. Michalek has spent the past 5 season’s in Phoenix, a place that isn’t the best to gain notoriety as a hockey player. Michalek is returning tonight from a shoulder injury that has had him shelved since opening night. Look for ‘Z’ to guide the Pens to victories while locking down the oppositions best players.
Evgeni Malkin – Malkin has started off slow again this season, but he has proven to be a top 5 player in the world when he is on. Malkin hasn’t had a steady line to play with this year and has struggled on the powerplay. If the Pens keep Letestu and forward Aaron Asham on Malkin’s line in the absence of Staal, it should open up the scoring lanes for Malkin and allow him to get back to form and become the Robin to Crosby’s Batman.
Though the Pens and the fans alike would love to see Staal healthy, the four guys mentioned above will be able to ease the pain a bit.
About the Author
Written by Michael Waterloo
I'm currently pursuing my Master's degree in Communication and Journalism from Clarion University. I currently work for Ohio Valley Athletics where I serve as the West Virginia Football Beat Writer and cover West Virginia Men's Basketball as well. I'm a big Pittsburgh Pirates, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Penguins, Pitt Panthers and Oregon Ducks fan. Follow me on Twitter at @MichaelWaterloo or visit www.ovathletics.com