There is another loss for the Pittsburgh Penguins, just two days after their star goaltender Matt Murray fell to injury, suffering yet another concussion, on Monday. Now, it is the Pens' newest offensive contributor who finds himself on the sideline.
Many were surprised that forward Zach Aston-Reese was not in the lineup on Tuesday's night, when the Penguins fell to the New Jersey Devils. It was finally revealed by head coach Mike Sullivan that Aston-Reese he got hurt in the morning skate earlier in the day and could not be in uniform for the evening's contest.
However, Sullivan went on to say that the 23-year-old forward will be out "longer term" with what the coach would only classify as an "upper-body" ailment.
Aston-Reese scored four goals in a four-game span earlier this month. He has been promoted to captain Sidney Crosby's wing on the Penguins' top line and answered the call. He has recorded a total of six points in 10 games since being called up from Pittsburgh's AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
The former Hobey Baker Award finalist was signed to an entry-level deal out of Northeastern University last year and has already made a great impact. However it remains to be seen if Aston-Reese can return sooner than later.
On Tuesday, it was also announced that Murray will be out indefinitely. The announcement came fresh of the heels of a concussion diagnosis for Murray, a particularly frustrating one for the Penguins as it comes at the hands of Murray's teammate Olli Maatta. On Monday, Murray was struck in the head by a hard shot from the 23-year-old Penguins defenseman and, while we were sure that Maatta by no means meant to hurt Murray, these are the kind of incidents you want to avoid at all costs during a practice sessions.
As a result of the injury the Penguins will be moving forward with 26-year-old goaltender Casey DeSmith who currently only has eight games of National Hockey League experience. While it's true that DeSmith's play at the NHL level has been limited, he has performed admirably this season when called upon by the Penguins, despite a loss against the Devils last night.
Sullivan confirmed the Murray injury when speaking to reporters on Tuesday and also made it clear that he felt very comfortable moving forward with the guys he currently has on his roster.
"We believe in the guys we have," Sullivan said as per NHL.com. "Both Casey and Tristan are very good goalies. They've played extremely well for us. They've helped us win games when they've been in the lineup. We've had some success with some inexperienced guys."
You have to believe that if this injury had not happened right at the deadline that general manager Jim Rutherford may have looked to acquire an experienced back up to help out his youngsters in goal, as it was reported that Buffalo Sabres' Robin Lehner, Arizona Cotoyes' Antti Raanta and Carolina Hurricanes' Cam Ward were on the trade block.
Too late now...