Round 2 Lineup Buzz
Penguins winger Chris Kunitz will get an opportunity this week to move past Mario Lemieux [hide] in career playoff games as a Penguin.
Kunitz who is sixth all-time in Penguin career playoff games with 106, is slated to dress for No. 107 on Thursday night for Game 1.
Kunitz will move into a tie with Mario Lemieux for fifth in career playoff games.
When Kunitz went down with an injury on March 31, it opened the door for the possibility he had played his last game but Kunitz after being on crutches for a few weeks, has made significant progress over the last week.
Kunitz who remains valued by the Penguin coaching staff, is expected to replace Carter Rowney to start the series. Kunitz took all 4th line left wing rushes during practice Monday on a line with Matt Cullen and Tom Kuhnhackl.
If Kunitz’ skating legs are there from the start, the coaches won’t be shy of moving him up with Nick Bonino but have been pleased with Scott Wilson’s play there so far.
Kunitz was always a lock to return to the lineup when healthy and the more intriguing lineup decision for Game 1 is on the blue line.
Chad Ruhwedel is under consideration by Penguin coaches to replace Ron Hainsey in the lineup, a team source says. Penguin coaches seem more likely to stick with the same d-pairs to start but Ruhwedel is held in high regard and Sullivan eyes another right handed D in the lineup.
“There’ll be certain guys that may come out of the lineup or come in and out of the lineup,” Mike Sullivan said of the pending lineup decisions.
Carl Hagelin had a setback with his broken right before Game 2 of the Blue Jackets following a hard skate that has his status for the Capitals series still up in the air. He experienced some swelling in his foot that prompted doctors to put him back in a walking boot for almost a week to stabilize things.
He’s still not skating with the team but is back on the ice going through individual on-ice workouts. Mike Sullivan, though, did express some confidence in getting Hagelin back at somepoint in the series.
“He’s getting closer,” Sullivan said. “He’s making progress. We’re hopeful we’re going to get him [back] soon. It’s one of those injuries that’s going to be a day-to-day thing.”
Matt Murray’s recovery continues to be slow from a groin injury. Initially, a source says three weeks was pinpointed as a best-case scenario for Murray returning to the lineup.
There is fear in the organization Murray could be heading down the road of potentially needing surgery or a non-invasive procedure that would also end his season if the rehab doesn’t show signs of correcting the problem.
Those season ending options are not on the table yet. Like with Kris Letang last month, this is a tricky injury for Murray where the Penguins don’t have a great idea yet on where the off-ice rehab will go.
Penguin players are fully anticipating Marc Andre Fleury to start the entire second round.[/hide]
Fleury is the Penguins goaltender for the remainder of the season. Barring injury to Fleury, Matt Murrays progress is almost as useless as Dan Bylsma updates