Repeating an explanation that he might as well make into a t-shirt at this point, Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan told reporters today including Sam Kasan of Pens Inside Scoop that Patric Hornqvist will be out “longer-term” with a lower-body injury. Hornqvist was injured in practice yesterday.
Hornqvist’s absence, when combined with the other injuries the Penguins are dealing with and Zach Aston-Reese being held out with an illness, means Stefan Noesen skated on the second line today at practice. Noesen was only signed to an NHL contract yesterday. Joseph Blandisi, who cleared waivers today, was still centering the fourth line with assistant coach Mark Recchi on his left side.
It’s impressive how well the Penguins have done even with their major injuries, but after losing their last two have now fallen to fifth place in the Metropolitan Division. Hornqvist himself has already missed several games earlier in the year and will now be out of the picture for some time. Evgeni Malkin and whoever is left up front will have even more pressure on them to keep the team in the playoff picture.