Hockey will be watching center Evgeni Malkin on Sunday afternoon when the Pittsburgh Penguins play at the New Jersey Devils. He will be returning after missing the past two games because of COVID-19.
That includes Malkin’s expected right winger, Brock McGinn, although McGinn will be fighting the urge to become a spectator.
“Yeah,” McGinn said with a slight chuckle when asked about an inclination to watch the Penguins’ gifted and creative center. “He’s obviously highly skilled and a lot of fun to watch. As much as I can get the puck into his hands, the better.”
Malkin became symptomatic and tested positive for the virus during the All-Star break. He missed the Penguins’ 4-2 win Tuesday at Boston. He felt better and tested out of the protocol after that, but Canadian border restrictions forced him to miss a 2-0 win Thursday at Ottawa.
Malkin is expected to return Sunday. At practice Saturday (after a team optional practice Friday) at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex, he took drills in his normal spot on the second line between McGinn and Kasperi Kapanen, and he participated with the top power play unit.
Sullivan Still Roots for USA
Team USA scored an important 4-2 win over Canada late Saturday night (Eastern time) at the Beijing Olympics. Penguins coach Mike Sullivan did not stay up and watch.
That wasn’t out of any sort of melancholy over not being there, Sullivan said. He was supposed to coach the Americans, but the COVID-19 pandemic prompted the NHL to pull its players and personnel from the tournament.
“I did not stay up,” Sullivan said. “I was thrilled that the U.S. won.
“I wouldn’t say it’s bittersweet, no, because I’m American and first and foremost I root for the Americans. Would it have been a privilege to be part of an Olympic experience? Without a doubt. Was I looking forward to that opportunity to compete at the Olympics with America’s best? Without a doubt.”
While the win was big, it is early in the tournament, and it probably wasn’t as monumental as CNN made it out to be:
The United States men's ice hockey team secured its first victory against Canada at a Winter Olympics in 12 years on Saturday, conjuring comparisons to the "Miracle on Ice" team of 1980 https://t.co/jRQKdmdNJE
— CNN (@CNN) February 12, 2022
Still, it left Sullivan feeling pretty good from afar.
“They have good, young players that are the next generation of NHL guys for the most part,” Sullivan said of Team USA.
Cool Drill At Practice
The Penguins practice, just over a half hour, was essentially a “morning skate” for Sunday’s afternoon game at New Jersey, with perhaps a little more special teams work.
And this drill to open the session. It was a tight-space forecheck drill, different from the three-on-three drills the Penguins employ from time to time. Here’s a look: