Pittsburgh Penguins superstar Evgeni Malkin appears to be inching closer to a return. According to witnesses who were preparing for youth hockey tryouts at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Facility where the Penguins practice, Malkin skated Saturday morning in full gear at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex with Penguins skills coach Ty Hennes.
Injured Penguins defenseman Chad Ruhwedel also skated.
Last Saturday, Malkin was injured in the Penguins 5-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues. While it hasn’t been confirmed, the injury was likely sustained when St. Louis defenseman Robert Bortuzzo cross-checked Malkin in the mid-section as Malkin skated past the net. Bortuzzo was not penalized and Malkin finished the game.
However, the following day, Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan announced Malkin was out, “week to week.” It’s widely believed Malkin suffered bruised ribs.
Penguins rookie Teddy Blueger has anchored the Penguins second line between Phil Kessel and Jared McCann in Malkin’s absence. The typical protocol for players is to begin skating with Hennes, then join the team in a non-contact jersey, before becoming a full participant in practice, then games.
Blueger has one goal in three games since assuming the spot. Kessel has not scored an even strength goal since Jan. 30.
However, Malkin’s work with Hennes doesn’t necessarily signify a definite timeline. Witnesses who watched the skate did not see Malkin shoot the puck.
The Penguins continue their four-game road trip tonight in Dallas.