It’s human nature to take a breath after fighting through the storm. Beyond cutesy bedroom wall art which posits you must learn to dance in the rain, the natural tendency is to relax after the worst of the trials and tribulations are over. The Pittsburgh Penguins were so decimated by injuries that only their top line remained intact while the other three lines and their blue line had to be shuffled and reshuffled.
And now they have an equally daunting task: Fight the letdown.
The Penguins are no strangers to significant and season altering injuries. From Kris Letang’s neck injury in 2017 which forced him to miss the second half of the season and the consecutive Stanley Cup run to Letang and Malkin’s late-season injuries last season which seemingly galvanized a short-staffed team, the Penguins and injury-caused adversity have become old friends. The Penguins have not only survived but thrived in those situations.
“(Evgeni Malkin) is a huge part of our success here and he’s one of the best players in the world,” Patric Hornqvist said Monday. “We miss him out there and it will be nice to see him come back.”
The Penguins quagmire with five injured forwards and a defenseman is now almost over. Malkin would like to return on Saturday. Forward Alex Galchenyuk is back as is Brian Dumoulin, but head coach Mike Sullivan knows the next challenge is often a stealthy surprise. The Penguins should immediately be better, or so they think.