Penguins’ Teddy Blueger back in the lineup after short minor league stay
BUFFALO, N.Y. — When the Pittsburgh Penguins assigned Teddy Blueger to Wilkes-Barre on Monday, it wasn’t a reflection of his play. The team needed a roster spot due to injuries on defense and Blueger didn’t require waivers to be sent down.
Moments after the transaction was announced, coach Mike Sullivan sung Blueger’s praises and noted that his return was just a phone call away.
Still, it stung.
When a player has reached the point where the only goal left for him to reach is to earn a permanent roster spot in the NHL, each demotion hurts, no matter the circumstances.
Luckily for Blueger, it stung for only a short time.
Blueger reported to Wilkes-Barre for two practices, then returned immediately to Pittsburgh when Bryan Rust went down with a lower-body injury Tuesday night in Columbus.
He was set to rejoin the Penguins lineup on the fourth line with Matt Cullen and Garrett Wilson on Friday night in Buffalo.
With Rust out “longer term,” Blueger figures to be in the NHL for the foreseeable future.
“I was hoping to get back,” Blueger said. “I wasn’t expecting it to be that quick, but obviously really happy about it. Just kind of shows how quick things can change. You never know what’s going to happen from day to day.”
There’s one thing Blueger knows now that he didn’t know when he made his NHL debut Jan. 30. A center by trade, he’s perfectly capable of playing on the wing at the sport’s highest level.
“Everyone kept asking me that,” Blueger said. “I obviously haven’t played wing in a long time, but after I got that first game, I felt good at it. I feel comfortable playing there, just as comfortable as I do center. I knew I could play just because during the play, positions are kind of interchangeable. I feel like I know the game well enough to play wing too.”
It looks like Blueger has also proven that he’s capable of scoring at the NHL level, given that he recorded three goals and an assist in just nine games before being sent down.
On Friday morning, though, he pumped the brakes on that kind of talk.
“Obviously, small sample size,” Blueger said. “I don’t think I’ve shown, necessarily, I can score yet. Still a long way to go to that, but hopefully heading in the right direction.”
Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jonathan by email at email@example.com or via Twitter .