When Nick Bonino went down in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final after blocking a shot from P.K. Subban during a 5-on-3 power play for Nashville and breaking his ankle, he was forced to use crutches to move around.
However, not being able to use his hands was just not cutting it for the Pens center. So Bonino took it upon himself to find a better alternative - a hands-free crutch strapped to his injured leg like a peg.
"In Nashville I was fed up with having no hands when I crutched around," Bonino said. "I went to a medical supply store, did a little research online, and went and got it. After the first few comments from the team I got used to it. It's worked out well."
Bonino missed the remainder of the series despite returning to the game after the injury.
"Anyone would have tried," Bonino said about finishing the game. "It's easier when the adrenaline is going, and it's a big game. He told me right before that if this goes wrong, we would need surgery. Luckily it didn't shift enough over the next week when I did try (to play on it) a couple times to need surgery at this point. I'm happy with that."
But Bonino wasn't the only player dealing with an injury. The Pens have dealt with a lot of them over the years, and this season was no different as they suffered 286 man-games lost. As the season came to a close with a second-consecutive Stanley Cup championship, even more injuries were disclosed during locker cleanout day on Thursday - showing just how tough these players were during the long stretch.
"A lot of guys were playing through so much," captain Sidney Crosby said. "It's incredible what guys were playing through and that we were able to get through all of that and still find a way to win."
Winger Carl Hagelin admitted that he broke his fibula against the Winnipeg Jets on March 8, an injury that kept him out of the first round of the playoffs against Columbus.
"It didn't really heal the way it should," Hagelin said. "It should take 4-6 weeks, but after five weeks it wasn't healing much in there. I took another week off and stuff and going into the Washington series, I wanted to get back and play. It didn't feel great at first. It wasn't until probably the Nashville series where I actually felt like I could do what I wanted to do, where my leg felt somewhat normal."
Rookie netminder Matt Murray also confided that the injury that took him out of the lineup prior to Game 1 against the Blue Jackets was a torn hamstring. While Murray is unsure whether it was a former injury or if it happened during warmups, he admitted that he only looked toward recovery and never to what could have been.
"I was just thinking about what I needed to do to get back, and that's kind of what I focused on," Murray said. "I think I got back pretty quickly and I think I came back stronger than I did before. That was a positive out of everything."
Defenseman Brian Dumoulin suffered a hand injury in that same series, but didn't let it slow him down.
"My hand was injured pretty good there right after the Columbus series in that last game," he said. "It didn't seem to heal at all throughout the playoffs at all, so it's good now to give it some rest and figure out what's going on with it."
Winger Patric Hornqvist broke a couple of fingers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final that knocked him out for the rest of the series, while defenseman Justin Schultz fractured his rib in Game 2. He missed the next four games, returned for Game 7 and dealt with it for the rest of the run.
"It's something that you've just got to let heal and rest up here," Schultz said. "Luckily for me, it didn't get too much worse as it went on there. It didn't take too many hits, bad hits, that hurt it, so that's good."
It seems like injuries have just plagued the Pens for both of their Stanley Cup runs. But these Penguins thrive on overcoming adversity, and injuries are just another bump along the road on the journey to lift Lord Stanley.
"To win a Stanley Cup, to a certain extent, it's a little bit of a war of attrition," head coach Mike Sullivan said. "It's a testament to how hard teams play, how physical the playoffs are, how competitive the league is. There's a lot of good teams. And so we're a banged-up group right now. We had guys playing with broken bones, broken ribs, these guys have such an appetitie to win and be a part of it, they're willing to play through so much. I think I have so much respect for this group of players that we have and their appetite to win and their willingness to play through the types of injuries that we played through. And a lot of times, we're trying to protect our players through the playoff process so we don't always come out and tell the media or people what they're playing with for obvious reasons. But I just have so much respect for what this group of players has endured in order to win this Stanley Cup championship."