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Teddy or not Blueger might have to play in the top six

February 23, 2021, 10:11 PM ET [475 Comments]
Ryan Wilson
Pittsburgh Penguins Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
The Pittsburgh Penguins earned an impressive 3-2 victory over the Washington Capitals in overtime. They were dominant at even-strength throughout the evening out attempting the Capitals 57-45 and out shooting them 31-22. Tristan Jarry was solid yet again. So why does this feel like a loss?

Jason Zucker had an awful looking crash into the boards in what looks like a month to month injury at first glance. Obviously, we have to wait and see what the diagnosis is, but it didn’t look good. If the injury is as bad as it looks it really puts the Penguins in a tough spot. They were going to be hard pressed to make improvements to the roster via trade during this season as it is. Replacing a top six forward? That is a tough ask.

The issue with stacking your roster with bottom six players who have minimal offensive skill is problematic when all hands are on deck. When you start to get injuries (it is hockey there will always be injuries) it really compounds the issue. Some bottom six forwards can pretend and look the part for stretches at a time. The Penguins are blessed with many of those. However, there might be one.

Teddy Blueger is having a really impressive season offensively. Tonight he had the primary assist on the game winning goal. He has 11 points in 17 games. He’s quick, his hands aren’t a liability, and he’s feeling it. I realize the center depth does not look good if you bump him off the third line. I would argue it is more important to give the top six their best chance to produce offense. It is still a top heavy team. It was before a potential Zucker injury and it is after. The Penguins are going to have to lean into that truth and keep things chugging along.

Jared McCann made the trip to Washington. Regardless if he plays in the next game or not it signifies he is close to returning to the lineup. Play McCann at center on the third line for a little while. The Penguins should be interested in getting another look at him at center because the sample at wing this year has been less than desirable. Before the Penguins look into trades they need to learn what they can about the players they do have. Giving McCann some time at center and Blueger some time with the Malkin line is a good way to learn some things in short order. If it doesn’t work you can flip flop them.

All I know is I would try and take advantage of one of the hot hands on the team and buy some time to make a decision. The Penguins literally don’t have any assets to burn.

Thanks for reading!
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