Penguins notebook: Injuries to Matt Murray, others lead to flurry of moves
On the eve of a three-game road trip that begins Friday at Carolina, a wave of injuries forced the Penguins to put three players on injured reserve and call up four others from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the AHL.
Defensemen Kris Letang and Chad Ruhwedel and forward Bryan Rust were placed on injured reserve, which means they must miss at least a week. The Letang move was retroactive to Dec. 24.
The call-ups are goalie Casey DeSmith, defensemen Frankie Corrado and Andrey Pedan and winger Garrett Wilson.
Corrado, 24, gives the Penguins a right-handed option on the blue line. He has fared well in limited NHL action this season and has a goal, seven assists and a plus-6 rating in 19 games with Wilkes-Barre.
Pedan, 24, is a 6-foot-5 Lithuanian defenseman acquired from Vancouver in the Derrick Pouliot deal at the end of training camp. He has two goals and eight assists in 26 AHL games this season.
Wilson, 26, is a power forward with 34 games of career NHL experience with Florida. He has six goals, 14 points and 54 penalty minutes in 25 games with Wilkes-Barre this season.
DeSmith, 26, has played two games for the Penguins this season in a relief role.
In addition, goaltender Matt Murray has an upper-body injury and won't play Friday against the Hurricanes, coach Mike Sullivan said after practice Thursday. He listed him as “day-to-day.”
Rust (upper body) will be out “longer term,” Sullivan said. Ruhwedel missed practice Thursday, also with an upper-body injury, but he is listed as “week-to-week.”
Those situations are on top of lower-body injuries to Letang and Justin Schultz, who has been out since Dec. 5.
Murray's absence — of unspecified length at the moment — is his second this season. He missed seven games with a lower-body injury from Nov. 27 until Dec. 14. The team was 4-3 in his absence.
Help on the right side
Ruhwedel, Letang and Schultz are the Penguins' only right-handed NHL regulars on defense, so Corrado, a rightie, will help fill the void.
“It seems like we're having a hard time finding righties,” Sullivan said. “When the three righties we have are all hurt at the same time, it presents a challenge. It's nothing we haven't dealt with in the past and we'll deal with it again.”
Switch for Hunwick
Another adjustment is placing Matt Hunwick, a left-hander, on the right side of Brian Dumoulin on the No. 1 defensive pairing.
Sullivan said having Hunwick switch sides “isn't ideal, but he's capable of playing there and he's willing.”
The injuries increase defenseman Olli Maatta's presence on the power play.
“I thoughg Olli did a nice job (Wednesday) night,” Sullivan said. “He distributed the puck well. He sees the ice well. He's got a pretty good shot. He got some shots through for us.
“We're asking him to keep it simple back there. We have enough firepower so they can continue to have success.”
Sullivan is confident Murray's No. 1 replacement, Tristan Jarry, can fill the void.
“Tristan is a good goalie,” Sullivan said. “He's played some good games for us. He's helped us win some games.
“We think Tristan can step in there and be a solid goalie for us. He can make a timely save. He's very, very capable. He handles the puck well. There are a lot of things I like about Tristan's game.”
Jarry has a 5-2-2 record in 11 games (nine starts), with a 2.43 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage.