With winger Zach Aston-Reese sidelined on a day-to-day basis with a lower-body injury, the Pittsburgh Penguins will have a different look up front when they face the Washington Capitals on Tuesday night.
Aston-Reese was injured in the second period of a 4-2 Penguins win over Boston on Sunday night.
His spot on the left wing of the second line with Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel was taken by rookie Teddy Blueger. Based on morning skate combinations, Blueger will stay in that spot against the Capitals.
For the vast majority of the first three years of his pro career, Blueger was training to fill a bottom-six center position. Now, he suddenly finds himself as a top-six winger.
“I think the progression that’s been there, it’s like I was bottom six but I think I’ve gotten better and shown I can produce at (the AHL) level,” Blueger said. “As long as I keep working and keep getting better every day, I think there’s nothing than can stop me from doing that at the next level too.”
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton call-up Joseph Blandisi moved into Blueger’s spot on the fourth line with Matt Cullen and Garrett Wilson.
Blandisi, who has played 75 career NHL games with New Jersey, Anaheim and the Penguins, is known for his speed and his willingness to play an abrasive style of hockey.
“Lots of energy. Make smart plays. Be responsible in our own zone,” Blandisi said of his approach. “Get pucks in and make it hard on their defensemen. Finish our checks and make some room for the other guys.”
Matt Murray will make his ninth straight start in net for the Penguins, who are tied with Carolina for third place in the Metropolitan Division, six points behind the first-place Capitals.
Kris Letang (upper body) participated in morning skate in a non-contact capacity. Bryan Rust (lower body) and Olli Maatta (shoulder) remain out.