The Pittsburgh Penguins are off to a good start in their playoff series against the Carolina Hurricanes, but one Penguin, Sergei Gonchar, clearly does not look like his usually formidable self.
When healthy, Gonchar is among the finest defensemen of his generation, with enviable skating abilities, exceptional vision on the ice, and a blistering slap shot. Unfortunately, the part about skating has been severely hindered by the knee injury he received last week, courtesy of Alex Ovechkin. If the first period of Pens-Canes is any indication, Gonch's injury has made him noticeably vulnerable to a rush through the neutral zone, something which could have game-deciding consequences in this series against a very speedy Carolina team.
Gonchar's decisions to play in Game 7 against the Caps and again in Game 1 versus Carolina were undoubtedly heroic. However, if his knee injury is of the sort that will improve without surgery, the Penguins should consider resting him, to whatever extent they can, in the hope that he'll be better able to help the team, either later in this series or possibly in the next.