Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin, expected to be out until at least December after knee surgery, skated briefly before the team practiced Monday at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex.
Malkin was joined by fellow injured teammates Sidney Crosby and Mike Matheson. While Crosby (wrist surgery) and Matheson (undisclosed) were in full gear, Malkin was in a tracksuit and did not skate particularly hard. Crosby and Matheson have not played in the team’s first three games, but Matheson could be on the verge of returning.
Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said it was the first time since Malkin’s surgery that he skated and called it “significant” news for Malkin, who is on long-term injured reserve. That would preclude him from playing until sometime in November, but Penguins general manager Ron Hextall has said Malkin is expected to miss at least the first two months of the season, which would put him into December. There is no indication that a return to the ice has altered his timeline.
Crosby has been skating and even practicing. He has not been a full participant, at least going into Monday’s practice. He did not return to join the main group at practice, and Sullivan said Crosby will not play Tuesday at home against Dallas. His next opportunity for his season debut is Saturday at home against Toronto.
Evgeni Malkin, 35, is one of the Pittsburgh Penguins most decorated players. He had eight goals, 20 points in 33 games last season, plus a goal and four assists in the Penguins’ first-round playoff loss against the New York Islanders. He played in the postseason and part of the regular season despite obviously being injured.
Matheson did join his teammates on Monday. He skated on a third pairing with Chad Ruhwedel and on the second power-play unit, making it a possibility he will play Tuesday. ”
Meanwhile, two injury updates that are a lot less encouraging.
Winger Bryan Rust, who is on injured reserve and not eligible to play Tuesday against Dallas, is now out on a “week to week” basis, according to Sullivan. He has a lower body injury.
And defenseman Mark Friedman is being evaluated for a lower body injury. Friedman limped off at practice after what appeared to be attention to a skate on the bench. Apparently, it was more than that. He did return — minus the limp — and skated briefly. Sullivan said he doesn’t believe Friedman’s injury will prove to be serious.