CRANBERRY TOWNSHIP, Pa. — Evgeni Malkin and Carl Hagelin did not participate in a full-team practice at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex on Wednesday, after which Mike Sullivan ruled both out for Thursday’s Game 1 of the Penguins’ second-round Stanley Cup playoff series against the Capitals.
Malkin suffered a lower-body injury last Friday, in Game 5 of the first round against the Flyers. While he returned to play the final two periods that night, he was in the press box for the Penguins’ clinching Game 6 win at Philadelphia on Sunday afternoon.
As for Hagelin, he sustained an upper-body injury via a high check from Claude Giroux in Game 6. No penalty was called on the play, but Hagelin went immediately to the locker room with blood dripping from his face. The Penguins did not indicate Hagelin was in concussion protocol, which they have done throughout this season when appropriate.
Sullivan said after practice that both Malkin and Hagelin skated early this morning here at the team facility, but they haven’t made enough progress to be considered for Game 1. Malkin will travel with the team to Washington late Wednesday, while Hagelin will stay back in Pittsburgh.
Expect Riley Sheahan to reprise his enhanced role from Sunday, when he led all Penguins forwards in ice time (20:07) while maintaining his spot on the first penalty-killing unit.
“Obviously with ‘G’ out, we had a lot of guys playing a little more and in different situations,” Sheahan told me. “It gives you some confidence. Makes you feel comfortable, when you can sorta get into the rhythm of a game like that and feel like you’re contributing, it helps. It’s fun to get in this position and seeing the playoffs. Hopefully we can keep it going.”
At Wednesday’s workout, rookie Dominik Simon and Phil Kessel were on Sheahan’s wings, so it looks like Sullivan will stick with his general framework from Game 6 against the Flyers, when he left the third line of Conor Sheary, Derick Brassard and Bryan Rust untouched and simply lifted Sheahan from the fourth line to the second.
“Based on that history, we’re trying to make the decisions based on that,” Sullivan said. “But nothing’s etched in stone.”
Prior to the Brassard acquisition, Sheahan played with Kessel, so this wasn’t that big of an adjustment. As for Simon, he’s been on Sidney Crosby‘s line often this year, so he’ll have to adapt to his two new running mates on the fly.
“At this time of year, you can’t let it take very long,” Kessel said.