Pittsburgh Penguins Attempt To "Defy Ordinary" By Battling Injury Bug

Laura FalconAnalyst INovember 18, 2009

PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 16:  Jay McKee #74 of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Joffrey Lupul #14 of the Anaheim Ducks battle for a loose puck in the second period at Mellon Arena on November 16, 2009 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

It's injury season in the NHL and the Pittsburgh Penguins have caught the bug.

At the start of the season, the team was without Game Seven hero Max Talbot and injuries have slowly trickled down to forwards Kennedy, Malkin and Kunitz. Fortunately, Malkin has returned to the lineup.

The blue line is a completely different and more serious story. The Penguins would start the season with a solid blue line that included the following pairings:  Gonchar - Orpik, Letang - Eaton, McKee - Goligoski. 

Each line held a deadly offensive defenseman paired with a shutdown man.

At the end of the pre-season, General Manager Ray Shero randomly signed Martin Skoula from Minnesota who would pick up a Penguins uniform to essentially cool his heels in the pressbox. Then it got interesting.

Gonchar went down with a broken wrist, out for two to four weeks. Letang then drops with a shoulder contusion, out for two weeks.

Since Malkin was out at the time, all I could think was "goodbye, already lacklustre power-play."

Then Orpik gets a lower body injury, out for two weeks. Goligoski follows suit, out two to three weeks with a lower body injury.

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Then today, I went online and saw that McKee is out for two to four weeks with an infected finger. You can also add the fact that Eaton left practice early for unknown reasons.

From the start of the season, the Pens' top six defensemen have dwindled to one.Skoula has now become one of the Pens' top two defensemen granted Eaton isn't hurt as well.

I am keeping in mind that McKee's injury is coming at a time when Gonchar and Orpik are preparing to return to the lineup, but the injuries that are piling up are simply staggering. 

It was becoming difficult to recognize the lineup since many of players were called up from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to fill in the gaps.

With all of this in mind, what a better way to prove that this team is "defying ordinary."

The unbelievable start to the season seemed like a dream to the Pens, winning 11 of their first 14 games and their first seven away games. It was almost too easy for the team.

These injuries really were a slap in the face, especially the loss of Malkin.  The Pens were shutout in consecutive games.

However, the loss of so many key players forced the team's "average" players to step it up a notch which they did to a certain point but remained unsuccessful until Malkin returned to the lineup.

The Pens are obviously continuing to fight against injuries, but if these "average" players can up their game along with the strong WB/S support team of Lovejoy, Guenin and Engelland, then you can imagine the team's fight when the lineup is back in action.

This is a interesting time for the team, a time that is beyond the point of ridiculousness. 

However, if the remaining players manage to hold the fort while the injured lick their wounds, then I think the team will discover a side that wasn't seen even during the 2009 miracle run to the Stanley Cup.

Take away any team's top five defensemen and many will see the blue line self-destruct. Then again, the Penguins aren't just any ordinary team.