Has Kunitz played his last game as a Penguin?

37 year old Chris Kunitz who is 6th all-time in Penguins history with 106 career playoff games, won’t get an opportunity to add to that total anytime soon.

Kunitz is sidelined with a long-term injury, Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan said today during his pre-game media session.

The Penguins are bracing for Kunitz to be sidelined for multiple weeks and he will certainly not be available to play in the first round. A source close to the situation said the best case scenario for Kunitz would be a [hide] a return in early May and that’s an optimistic view at this point.

A free agent at seasons end, if Kunitz has indeed played his last game as a Penguin, it’s been quite a run in Pittsburgh.

A mainstay as the Penguins top-line left winger for several seasons, Kunitz is 9th all-time in goals (169) in Penguins history, 13th in points (388) and won two Stanley Cups.

In the immediate, Kunitz production has declined the last couple months with 3 goals and 5 assists over his last 28 games but the injury still leaves a hole on the left side with Carl Hagelin’s status in doubt for the start of the playoffs.

Even at his age, Kunitz was still valued by the coaching staff in ability to play up and down the lineup and the hockey IQ as he remains effective at creating zone entries and keeping plays alive. The skating ability and shape he keeps himself in, the Penguins have felt Kunitz could still play another couple years.

With Kunitz out and Evgeni Malkin not even back to practicing with the team yet, Josh Archibald draws into the lineup vs the Hurricanes and is expected to skate on the 4th line with Scott Wilson and Carter Rowney.

The Kunitz injury leaves the Penguins thin tonight at left wing as Conor Sheary is now a right winger.

Phil Kessel has had to play there some due to injuries. Yesterday in practice Bryan Rust skated on left wing with Nick Bonino and Kessel. We could see that tonight.

Ron Hainsey who did not practice on Saturday, is good to go today.

In goal today vs the Hurricanes will be Matt Murray. [/hide]