Sunday, September 21, 2008

Uh oh, The Sarge is hurt

The last thing you want to see in exhibition games are injuries, and the Penguins appear to have a problem here with number 1 defenseman Sergei Gonchar going down with what's believed to be a separated shoulder.

Since Gonchar plays 26+ minutes a night matched against the other teams' top forwards, and also eats significant time on the penalty kill and basically runs the Penguins successful powerplay.

Luckily, GM Ray Shero wanted to collect, and pretty much has succeeded in stockpiling 10 NHL capable defensemen, so even with Ryan Whitney's surgery recovery as well as losing Gonchar the Penguins still have some decent options.

Notably, prospect Alex Goligoski. After leading the AHL in scoring this past post-season (28 points in 24 games). If Gonchar is to miss any regular season time-- and it's still a little early to say the sky is falling-- the "Goose" is going to have to figure into the Penguins plans, or at least get the chance to prove that he is ready for the show.

And of course the young Kris Letang, already under increased responsibility with Whitney's absence, is going to be counted on as the team's premier offensive defensemen.

The sky isn't falling but potentially opening up the year without your top two offensive defensemen isn't anyone's idea of ideal. It's better to have these sorts of worries in September and October than in April and May but the health factor is there. Hopefully the Pens have weathered the worst part of the storm and can slip through the rest of the exhibition games unscathed.

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