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Trevor Daley out for season; can Penguins handle the loss?

PITTSBURGH – Defenseman Trevor Daley has played his last game of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. 

Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said that Daley suffered a broken ankle in their Game 4 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning and will miss “the remainder of the season.”

It’s a significant blow to the Penguins’ blue line as they enter Sundays Game 5, as Daley was second on the team in ice time at 22:08 per game, and played on both the power play and the penalty kill.

Daley had six points in 15 games, and had a 49.52 Corsi rating at 5-on-5.

“You never want to see a guy like that go down, especially a guy who eats a lot of minutes like that. He’s a good guy on the ice and off the ice. Everybody loves him in the dressing room. He brings that calmness. That veteran presence,” said Kris Letang, who played with Daley throughout the regular season.

“But depth has been one of our strengths all year long.”

So all eyes are now on defenseman Olli Maatta, who is expected to be slotted with Letang on the top pairing. Brian Dumoulin should pair with Ben Lovejoy, and Justin Schultz should play with Ian Cole.

Maatta had been a healthy scratch since Game 1 of the Penguins’ Eastern Conference Final series against the Tampa Bay Lightning. It was his second game back after getting injured by a Brooks Orpik head shot in the Penguins’ semifinal series against the Washington Capitals. He didn’t look good: Reacting slowly, and didn’t have his legs.

Sullivan’s advice to Maatta before Game 5?

“Just relax. Have fun. Play. He’s been a top four defenseman for this team all season long. When we keeps his game simple, he’s at his best,” he said.

That said, Daley’s loss is a significant one. His arrival last December in a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks helped establish the speedy offensive tempo the Penguins have thrived with under Sullivan.

“Well, he's a tough guy to replace, I've said that all along. He's really made our team a better team. He's got real good offensive instincts. He's a real solid two-way defenseman, and it's hard to replace those guys, but we've done it all year, and we'll deal it again,” said Sullivan.

“On a personal level, I feel badly for Trevor because I know how important  this is to him and what it means to him and what he's brought to this team. You know, it's emotional for him. He's a terrific kid. He's brought a lot to this hockey team.”

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Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.

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