The 2013-14 season has featured the Pittsburgh Penguins playing the role of Sisyphus, the character from Greek mythology who is doomed to eternally push a boulder up a mountain.
For the Pens, that incline represents their perpetually-dour injury situation. In keeping with that theme, two more forwards find themselves in the athletic trainer’s room as the week begins.
According to the Penguins’ Twitter account and other media sources, Joe Vitale and Brian Gibbons didn’t take part in Monday morning’s practice at Consol Energy Center. Coach Dan Bylsma explained their absences following the drill-heavy workout:
Vitale will be out 3 weeks (upper body). Gibbons week-to-week (lower body), per #Pens coach Bylsma
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) January 13, 2014
Vitale was a scratch for Saturday’s win at Calgary, while Gibbons injured himself early in that game. Vitale had been playing center and wing primarily on the fourth line, and his spot was filled by rookie Zach Sill against the Flames.
Gibbons, on the other hand, was seemingly a competent fit with Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz on the Penguins’ top trio. The 25-year-old winger scored six points in his first 13 NHL games, including a goal and three assists in five January matches. Gibbons’ straight-line speed has been an asset, as has his ability to play at Crosby’s preferred fast tempo.
Perhaps Jayson Megna can take Gibbons’ spot for the time being. The rookie was seen skating with conditioning coach Mike Kadar prior to the team practice, indicating he could be available for Wednesday’s home game against Washington. Bylsma said Megna, along with top-four defenseman Paul Martin and depth forward Andrew Ebbett, will be evaluated to see if they can return to play this week.
Second-year wing Beau Bennett also participated in skating drills with Kadar, but his injured wrist hasn’t healed to the point that he can accept passes. Bennett was expected to fulfill a top-six role for the Penguins; instead, he played in just 12 games before getting hurt in late November.