As most hockey fans already know, Pittsburgh Penguins centre Evgeni Malkin was injured Saturday after taking an awkward spill into the boards. On Monday, the Penguins announced that the 33-year-old would be out “longer-term.”
So what does that mean and how will the Penguins cope?
Pittsburgh is now without three forwards for an indefinite period of time. Malkin joins Nick Bjugstad, also injured Saturday, and Bryan Rust. Rust was hurt after being hit in the face with a slapshot in the final pre-season game. He’s on the long-term injured reserve list.
But back to Malkin.
Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan noted that Malkin was expected to be on the shelf “a little bit longer than Nick.
The good news is that Sullivan stated that Malkin’s injury was not “season-ending,” but there are reports that he’ll be out at least a month with the lower body injury. According to TSN’s Darren Dreger, it’s a soft tissue injury to the leg.
This is bad timing, to say the least, as Malkin was hoping this season would be a chance to bounce back into his team’s good graces. He posted just 21 goals last season, his lowest total since 2012-2013, and had a discouraging turn in the playoffs against the New York Islanders.
The Malkin injury re-contextualizes what is a “retool” on the fly for the Penguins, who are shuffling the deck a little after trading Phil Kessel to the Arizona Coyotes. The goal for the time being is to amplify the years Pittsburgh has left out of Sidney Crosby and the Russian forward.
“Whenever players go down, it always provides an opportunity for someone else to step up,” Sullivan said. “That’s just the nature of our business. Fortunately, we have some guys that we can put into the center ice position that have familiarity and a comfort level there.”
When Malkin was injured Saturday, Sullivan shifted Jared McCann to his position down the middle. At the following practice, it was McCann with Alex Galchenyuk and Brandon Tanev. There is word that Dominik Kahun could be moved to centre from his post on the fourth line wing, while Teddy Blueger was in Bjugstad’s spot.
Sam Lafferty and Andrew Agozzino were called up from the AHL Monday.
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