CRANBERRY TWP (93.7 The Fan) – He’s not going to light up a scoresheet, but it may be a piece of what the Pens are lacking returning on Tuesday night against Colorado.
Forward Josh Archibald has been out since December 18 with a lower-body injury, but has now practiced full Sunday and Monday. He took every line rush with Teddy Blueger and Ryan Poehling and barring a late setback will return against the Avs.
It’s not that the Pens will benefit greatly from his goal scoring, four in 30 games, or his assists, two. He brings some of the grit and intangibles the Pens are consistently missing.
“When you look at Archie’s game and his competitive advantage as a player is the energy that he brings,” said Pens head coach Mike Sullivan. “He plays the game with a certain reckless abandon. He plays with an edge, on the edge. That’s what makes him effective.”
“His footspeed, physical play, ability to put our opponents under pressure. He forces a lot of turnovers and helps us create momentum. That’s the type of player he is. When he’s bringing some juice, I think that’s contagious for our group.”
“I think that’s a big part of my game, being physical and making it hard on other team’s defensemen,” Archibald said. “I think that’s part of the mindset. If there is a little spark that needs to be had, I think I can bring it.”
“He brings a lot of energy,” said Pens captain Sidney Crosby. “He’s tough to play against. He creates things offensively as well. Really, whether it’s on the forecheck, penalty kill, his physicality-those things are all important to winning hockey games. I think that’s what he brings.”
Archibald said he tries to use his physicality to slow down the opponent, but that won’t be easy. The Pens host the Stanley Cup champs and Crosby’s buddy Nathan MacKinnon with 54 points in only 37 games, plus Mikko Rantanen (61 points) and Cole Makar (45 points)
“Using our speed and I think we got to get back to that a little more than we had been,” Archibald said. “It will be a good test.”