No matter how the Pittsburgh Penguins season ends this year, one will have to ask what kind of a season it could have been without all of the injuries.
From the beginning of the season, the Penguins suffered from the injury bug as Jordan Staal missed the first 39 games due to an infection in his foot, and then a broken hand.
Evgeni Malkin, who looked under 100 percent all year, went down with a knee injury in early February. He is now out for the season.
Sidney Crosby hasn't played since Jan. 6 due to a concussion, and might not return until mid-March. Crosby was in the middle of a career-best season. Even though he hasn't played in a month, he still remains in the top 10 in scoring.
Joining the injured big three were forward Mark Letestu, who was also having a breakthrough year, grinder Aaron Asham and top-line winger Chris Kunitz.
The forward position has been absolutely decimated by injuries. At one point, half of the Penguins lineup was made up of players from the minor leagues!
Now the Penguins injury list continues to grow. Defenseman Brooks Orpik will miss 4-6 weeks with a broken finger, coach Dan Bylsma announced Thursday.
Orpik, a former first-round pick and Stanley Cup Champion, suffered the injury in the first period of Wednesday’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Sharks when he was hit in the hand by a Patrick Marleau shot.
Orpik has been playing some very good hockey this year, and is a good leader for the Pens, so he will be missed.
While the injuries have mostly just affected the Penguins forwards, the defense is starting to catch up. Along with Orpik, Paul Martin was held out of the lineup again Friday night against the Carolina Hurricanes.
The question now has to be asked—will Penguins GM Ray Shero pull off another trade for a defensive defenseman? Maybe a few draft picks and a Maxime Talbot or Tyler Kennedy for a defensive defenseman?
The good news is that, besides Evgeni Malkin, everyone should be back before the start of the NHL playoffs. If that happens, this team can very much compete and possibly win a Stanley Cup.