Penguins notebook: Dumoulin's injury could open door for Lovejoy
March 22, 2016 3:48 PM
Alex Gallardo/Associated Press
Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin, right, has appeared in all 72 games this season.
By Jenn Menendez / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
When Brian Dumoulin hobbled off the ice Sunday after a hit by Washington’s Alexander Ovechkin, it didn’t look good.
The Penguins said on Tuesday, however, that Dumoulin’s injury is not expected to be long term.
“Brian skated on his own before practice [Tuesday],” coach Mike Sullivan said. “He’ll be a day-to-day monitoring. We’ll see how he responds to that … but we don’t think it’s long term.”
Through Sunday, Dumoulin was one of just four players on the team who had played in all 72 games this season and has been one of the club’s steadiest defensemen. The only other players who have been in every game are Matt Cullen, Patric Hornqvist and Phil Kessel.
“Obviously he’s an important part of our team, he’s played a lot of really solid hockey for us,” Sullivan said. “He helps us at both ends of the rink. He’s an important player for us. Certainly we’re a better team when we’re in the lineup.”
If Dumoulin does miss a game, it appears the door may open for Ben Lovejoy to crack the lineup. Lovejoy skated in Dumoulin’s place at practice on a pairing with Trevor Daley.
He said he feels great injury-wise and he could play “right now” but understands the coaching staff’s conundrum.
“The team is playing so well it’s difficult to get in the lineup,” Lovejoy said. “If I were the coach I would totally make the same decision. You never want to mess with something that’s going really well. This is something we’ve worked toward all year. I feel, and everybody in the room feels, we’re peaking at the right time and playing some of our best hockey.”
Sullivan reiterated that regardless who is available for Thursday’s game against the New Jersey Devils, he trusts all eight defensemen on the roster.
“We think we have capable guys. Ben has played a lot of solid hockey for us as well,” Sullivan said. “Those are difficult decisions that the coaching staff has to make, and we certainly don’t take them lightly.”
The Penguins are in the midst of their last extended break between games for the remainder of the season.
The club had Monday off, practiced Tuesday and will practice again today before hosting the Devils on Thursday.
“Rest is important for our guys … I also think from a mindset standpoint we can’t exhale,” Sullivan said. “We’ve got to make sure we stay hungry. We recognize how we’re playing and the way we’re playing and the details of how we’re playing in order to get the results we’ve enjoyed here over the last couple of weeks.
“We have to continue to challenge one another to stay on top of our game.”
Guentzel, Blueger sign
The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins signed Jake Guentzel to an amateur tryout contract Tuesday, a forward widely considered to be one of the organization’s top prospects.
Guentzel was the Penguins’ third-round pick in the 2013 draft, 77th overall, and spent the last three years at University of Nebraska-Omaha.
He just completed his junior season, where he compiled 19 goals, 27 assists as a co-captain. He finished his collegiate career with 119 points (40 goals, 79 assists).
The Penguins also singed forward Teddy Blueger, a 2012 draft pick, to a two-year, entry level deal.
Blueger will immediately head to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and play for the minor league team on an amateur tryout. The deal kicks in next season and runs through 2017-18.
Blueger, 6-feet, 185 pounds, played college hockey for Minnesota State-Mankato and led the team in points (35) and assists (24) while scoring 11 goals in 41 games.
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