Penguins notebook: Five defensemen dress against San Jose
It was unorthodox, and it certainly wasn't ideal.
The Penguins, because of salary cap and injury issues, dressed only five defensemen against the San Jose Sharks on Sunday at Consol Energy.
Injuries to defensemen Kris Letang and Christian Ehrhoff kept the duo out of the lineup.
“It definitely is different to play with only five,” defenseman Derrick Pouliot said. “You kind of know going in that you're all going to have to play bigger minutes. It's just something you have to be prepared for.”
The Penguins would have preferred to recall a defensemen from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
Doing so, however, could have come with consequences.
None of their current forwards, including Beau Bennett, were eligible to be sent to the AHL without being exposed to waivers.
Because of this, Pouliot, Paul Martin, Rob Scuderi, Ian Cole and Ben Lovejoy shouldered the load against the Sharks.
The Penguins, at least, had some practice at playing with five defensemen.
Before their game March 21 in Arizona, the Penguins learned they had to play with five defensemen because Ehrhoff was a late scratch.
“It's tough for the guys playing defense, obviously,” right wing Craig Adams said. “The most important thing we can do to help them is to control the puck as much as possible in the offensive zone.”
Another key variable for the defensemen, Pouliot said, is to stay out of the penalty box.
“When you're already a man short, you can't really lose too many people to penalties,” Pouliot said. “That isn't helping anyone.”
Had the Penguins played a man short against the Sharks, a league stipulation states they would have been able to recall a player from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on an emergency basis for Wednesday's game against the Flyers should they require one. A team must play with 19 or fewer players in one game to qualify for the emergency play in the following game. They also would have been eligible to use an emergency player against St. Louis on March 24 but didn't need one.
The Penguins are unable to put Letang or Ehrhoff on the long-term injured reserve list because there are fewer than 10 games remaining in the regular season, and being placed on that list requires players to miss at least 10 games.
Playing with five defensemen forced the Penguins to consider an emergency player, should one or two of their blue liners get injured or ejected.
The answer came in the form of left wing Daniel Winnik, who has been a defenseman at various stages of his career.
The veteran forward said he'd be ready, just in case.
“I guess so,” he said. “If it happens, I'd be more than happy to go back.”
Perron makes return
Coach Mike Johnston said Sunday morning that winger David Perron would miss a second straight game with an illness.
But Perron took warmups and played against the Sharks.
Perron has scored 12 goals in 36 games with the Penguins.
The Penguins rarely hold morning skates on the second day of back-to-back weekend games but had an optional skate Sunday. Nine players took part in the workout. The Penguins will not practice Monday.