The Pittsburgh Penguins season opener is still a few weeks away, but injuries have already impacted the roster. Jeff Carter and Teddy Blueger have been absent from practice this week due to upper-body injuries. Meanwhile, Kasperi Kapanen missed Tuesday's preseason game against the Detroit Red Wings due to an illness.
Over the past few years, the Penguins have struggled to remain healthy and consistently find themselves near the top of the "man games lost" list. Last season, the Penguins were without Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Jake Guentzel when they began the season and lost Brock McGinn and Jason Zucker for extended periods later in the season. Evan Rodrigues was the only player to suit up for all 82 games, but he has since departed for the Colorado Avalanche.
With Carter and Blueger out, Radim Zohorna and Drake Caggiula entered the lineup for the Penguin's "dress rehearsal" game against the Red Wings. Carter is currently considered day-to-day and should be ready to go by opening night in two weeks against the Arizona Coyotes.
Blueger's status is unclear at this point, but he was held out of practice on Thursday and is still being evaluated by the trainers.
Fortunately, the Penguins have more depth options at the center ice position this season. Zohorna and Sam Poulin played that role last season for the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins of the AHL after joining the Penguins organization as wingers. Ryan Poehling and Drew O'Connor also have the capability of stepping in at the position, although Sullivan believes O'Connor is better suited as a winger at the NHL level.
The NHL season is long and rough, and the Penguins are already off to a tough start in the training room.
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