Pittsburgh Penguins banged up to start season


Oct 19, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins right wing Chuck Kobasew (12) skates with the puck against the Vancouver Canucks during the second period at the CONSOL Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Penguins are just 12 games into the season and they are already banged up. They have James Neal, Chuck Kobasew, Beau Bennett, Rob Scuderi and Tomas Vokoun out. Some of these injuries have hurt the Penguins more than others. Let’s examine.

James Neal is a huge part of this team. He’s always on Evgeni Malkin‘s wing and when he’s not there, Malkin can’t make big plays like he does with other players. Neal’s also a 40-goal scorer and was on pace for 40 last year but the season was shortened because of the lockout. He’s still considered week-to-week with a lower-body injury he reportedly suffered playing whiffle ball on the ice nearly a month ago. When he comes back, Pittsburgh will get a huge boost in offense.

Scuderi is also a huge loss. Last week against the Maple Leafs, he broke his ankle during the game, which was reported Monday by the Penguins. This recovery usually takes 12-16 weeks, which could be deadly. Even when Scuderi gets back, he may not be 100 percent. Scuderi may not be back until January or February. He’ll be missed by Kris Letang, who was supposed to be his defensive partner this year.

Bennett may be practicing this week, according to NHL.com. I guess he’s feeling good enough to get back on the ice, but it may take a few practices for him to get back into game shape. He’s usually on the third line with center Brandon Sutter.

Vokoun, as most of you may know, is out 3-6 months with a blood clot that almost killed him. He may not be back until playoff time. The Penguins may need to find a replacement for him until he returns because Jeff Zatkoff probably hasn’t impressed many Penguins fans through his first two games.

Finally, Kobasew is also hurt now. He suffered an injury Monday night in a win over Carolina. Coach Dan Bylsma says that the veteran winger is out for at least a month. He was usually on the second or third line to start the season.

These players all need to be healthy before playoff time or the Penguins likely won’t be able to make a Stanley Cup run.