The Penguins capped off the week with two wins and an overtime loss giving them a record of 20-6-4 bringing in 44 points. A single point ahead of the Tampa Bay Lightning for the Eastern Conference lead. The Pens are doing good with an injury riddled lineup, now taking both Sidney Crosby and Beau Bennett out of the lineup with the mumps. Bennett was already out with an injury and will most likely be out longer thanks to this. There is a particular mumps epidemic going around the NHL as close to 20 players have been diagnosed with the disease and even more getting tested when claiming they feel ill. Penguins’ goalie Marc-Andre Fleury plus defencemen Olli Maatta and Robert Bortuzzo are three on such list. An upside is that Crosby is no longer contagious and is on his way back to the lineup soon.
The mumps is something that in America you usually get vaccinated for, but not in Canada. Hockey, a sport usually dominated by Canadians and is the clear majority in the NHL with 50.3% of the league’s players. Canadians are also the majority of the players being diagnosed with the mumps. Some notable players to be diagnosed are Duncan Keith (Chicago Defenceman), Corey Perry (Anaheim forward), Tanner Glass (New York Ranger forward), Derick Brassard (New York Ranger forward) and Travis Zajak (New Jersey forward). Recovery for the mumps usually takes a week to 10 days.
Even without Crosby in the lineup the Penguins have been pulling out some fantastic play on the ice. Blake Comeau is on the path to having a career year, already having better stats from last season in not even half the time. Last year Comeau finished the season with 16 points including five goals. So far this season he has tallied 18 points with ten goals. He has been a stellar performer and a great pick up by the organization.
The minor league call ups are slowly becoming useful tools for the Penguins. Against the Lightning both Bryan Rust and Brian Dumoulin scoring their first goal in the NHL.
Even with a mumps epidemic in the league, the Penguins are searching and finding ways to remain one of the top teams. Great goaltending from Fleury and improvements from the farm team calls are factors that lead to such a powerful team as we await the return of top players from injuries and the mumps. Next game is at home against the struggling Colorado Avalanche on Thursday.
UPDATE: Coach Johnston has stated that it is a possibility that Crosby could play on Thursday. Bortuzzo, Maatta, and Fleury are “in quarantine as a precautionary measure as they await test results.”