Nov 4: Head coach Mike Sullivan will not be behind the bench for the Penguins tonight, as he too has been added to the COVID protocol. Assistant coach Todd Reirden will take over head coaching duties while Sullivan is out. In better news, Letang has been officially activated and is in the lineup.
Nov 3: The Pittsburgh Penguins and Chicago Blackhawks have added several players to the COVID protocol. For Pittsburgh, it’s a worst-case scenario, as Sidney Crosby and Brian Dumoulin have entered the protocol. Both are confirmed positives, and while Dumoulin is asymptomatic, Crosby is experiencing mild symptoms. That means the captain is out for at least ten days.
Crosby only just returned from injury, playing one game for the Penguins on Saturday. He managed over 19 minutes in his return, but certainly seemed to have a bit of rust after a long injury rehab. He was dominated in the faceoff circle and was on the ice for three of New Jersey’s four goals (the other was a penalty shot), failing to record a point. He’ll now be taken away from the rink for a while longer, certainly not helping him shake off that rust.
Losing Dumoulin though is just as defeating for the Penguins, if not more so. The veteran defenseman is averaging more than 21 minutes a night this season, helping to carry the load while Kris Letang was in the protocol and some of the younger options struggle. If he doesn’t experience any symptoms, there’s a chance he could return before Crosby, though it will depend on his test results in the coming days.
In Chicago, things aren’t much better. Though Henrik Borgstrom has been removed from the protocol, Tyler Johnson and Isaak Phillips have been added, meaning they’re unavailable for tonight’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes. The Blackhawks have not confirmed whether either one is a confirmed positive case.
Chicago has dealt with quite a few COVID-related absences this season, but had recently been restored to full availability as players like Patrick Kane, Riley Stillman and Jujhar Khaira came out of the protocol. While Johnson and Phillips aren’t the team’s most important players, the group can ill afford to lose any depth while they try to climb out of the basement. The Blackhawks only just secured their first win of the season and are well behind the pack for the playoffs.