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Pens Report: 05.16.17

by Nicole Jelinek @Penguins / Pittsburgh Penguins

The Pens held media availability before boarding their plane to Ottawa on Tuesday afternoon. Here is what you need to know moving forward in the Eastern Conference Final…

Winger Patric Hornqvist was a last minute scratch before Game 2 of Monday night's matchup at PPG Paints Arena. He will be day-to-day with an upper body injury.

Winger Bryan Rust was taken to the locker room after absorbing an open-ice hit from Ottawa defenseman Dion Phaneuf in the first period. He suffered an upper-body injury, which is being evaluated further.

Shortly after the loss of Rust, the Penguins suffered another significant loss of defenseman Justin Schultz. He left the game when he missed a check in his zone that led Sens winger Mike Hoffman to crash him hard into the end boards. Schultz will also be day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

Head coach Mike Sullivan provided further detail on Trevor Daley, who has been out since Game 5 against Washington with a lower-body injury, saying that he is making progress and skating on his own.

"The next step is obviously he will, at some point, join the team for practice," Sullivan said. "That will be an indication that he is closer. He is skating on his own right now and making progress, so that is encouraging."

All players, including those injured, will make the trip to Ottawa.

*The Pens are no strangers to injuries. They have dealt with them all year - 286 man-games lost - and have been successful in filling those voids, but a blow to another top blueliner was not what they needed.

On April 5, the team announced that Letang - who was sidelined for 41 total games during the regular season - would miss 4-to-6 months due to surgery to repair a herniated disc in his neck.

No one can replace a player like Letang, but Schultz has become a vital element on the defensive end, playing an average of 21:10 minutes a game.

Though he is a defenseman, Schultz shows his skills in all areas of the ice-making him a dangerous weapon to their defensive and offensive ends. His absence is yet another obstacle they will have to push past, but they were able to overcome that in Game 2.

With Schultz out, it left the team with only five defensemen on the bench, but the coaching staff, most notably assistant coach Jacques Martin, brilliantly disseminated the playing time equally amongst the group.

"We believe we have a good team and we have a deep team," Sullivan says. "We have what it takes to win regardless of which guys are in our lineup. All of these guys that we will utilize to be in our lineup on each given night have helped this team win and had success all year long. We believe we can continue to do that."

*So who will take over that sixth spot on the blue line if Schultz's is unable to suit up for Game 3?

Mark Streit.

Although Streit has yet to play in the playoffs this year, he is a veteran to game and has been able to step up when the team needs him.

Streit was acquired at the NHL trade deadline and his offensive talent, particularly on the power play, will be an asset for the Pens.

"Mark is a guy that has a valuable experience," Sullivan said. "He is a really savvy player. I think he could help us on our power play. He could help us get out of our end zone. He is a really good puck mover. I think he has great puck skills, so that was one of the main reasons we acquired him when we did. He has really helped us win games here down the stretch. If Mark is the guy we go to, we know he can continue to help us win games."

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