Pity the poor Pittsburgh Penguins. They have the best 1-2-3 centre punch in the NHL - all under the age of 25 - but they cannot keep them in the line-up. At least not at the same time.
At the start of the season, the Pens boasted the superlative top two of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, while two-way force Jordan Staal was sidelined battling foot problems and general bad injury luck. Staal missed the first two months of the season, but made it back in time for the January 1 outdoor Winter Classic against Washington.
That game, of course, is when the Capitals' David Steckel collided with Crosby as the two players were turning to head back up the ice. Crosby went down heavily; he finished the game, but his fall foreshadowed the downfall to come.
Crosby dressed for the Pens' next contest against Tampa Bay, in which Victor Hedman, the Lightning defenceman, ran the Pittsburgh captain into the end boards. We have not seen him since, and it might be March - or later - before he is back.
With news out of Boston that Marc Savard is out for the season after a second concussion in less than a year, the Penguins are wise to protect Crosby. However, it puts a hurt on the here and now, especially with the devastating news that Malkin is out for the year after knee surgery.
In other words, it is up to Staal and the supporting cast to carry the load. It is a lot to ask of a group that is used to looking to Crosby and Malkin to lead the way.