Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin is unlikely to play in Game 2 against the New York Islanders, at least according to long-standing process and ritual.
Before the Penguins’ (optional) morning skate on Tuesday, Malkin took an extended on-ice workout with skills coach Ty Hennes and a practice goalie.
Evgeni Malkin was on the ice for the Penguins practice on Monday but participated little in the main practice. He neither participated in line rushes nor took his customary spot on the Penguins power play. Instead, Malkin floated around the ice-observing the practice and drills.
He did work on individual skills and shooting after practice, both with teammates and coaches. Head coach Mike Sullivan has termed Malkin a game-time decision, but skating solo for at least 45 minutes before the morning skate is a bad sign.
Malkin missed 23 games this season and returned for the final four games of the 2020-21 NHL season. However, later in the season finale against the Buffalo Sabres, Sullivan said Malkin tweaked his lower-body injury. Malkin was injured in mid-March against the Boston Bruins when heavy defenseman Jared Tinordi caught Malkin with a clean open-ice hit deep in the Boston zone. Malkin played another shift and on a power play but missed the next six weeks.
The Pittsburgh Penguins dropped Game One of their Round One series against New York, 4-3. Kyle Palmieri scored two goals, including the game-winner in overtime. According to NaturalStatTrick.com, the Penguins top line with Sidney Crosby had nearly as many scoring chances at every other line from both teams combined. The Crosby line had 17 scoring chances, all other lines for both teams combined for 20.
Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin was also absent from practice on Monday. The Penguins have lost 10 of their last 11 playoff games, including seven straight to teams coached by Barry Trotz, the New York bench boss.
Game 2 begins just after 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday at PPG Paints Arena.
UPDATE: Head coach Mike Sullivan said Brian Dumoulin skated on Tuesday morning. PHN was the first media outlet to arrive, nearly one hour before the skate but didn’t see Dumoulin skate. So, we cannot assess if it was a quick test, to the positive or negative to the apparent lower-body injury he may have suffered in Game 1.