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Heinen, O’Connor Back; Penguins Lines and Malkin Update



PIttsburgh Penguins, Drew O'Connor

BOSTON —  You know the Pittsburgh Penguins drill. One player enters the lineup, at least one leaves. The Penguins announced that Evgeni Malkin was placed in COVID protocol earlier Monday. Monday afternoon, the Penguins lines were adjusted, while Drew O’Connor and Danton Heinen were in a regular sweater at the team practice at Warrior Arena.

After the All-Star break, the NHL moved to more relaxed COVID testing. Asymptomatic players aren’t tested, so Malkin’s stay in protocol means he has some symptoms. PHN will update the story when head coach Mike Sullivan speaks after practice.

UPDATE: Sullivan said Malkin tested positive during the break, but didn’t provide a specific day (the day following a player’s positive test is Day 1 of the five-day protocol).

“So, during the break, he was symptomatic…and he tested positive. My understanding is the symptoms aren’t severe, but they were significant enough that Geno reached out…I don’t think he can go to Canada just based on the protocol in Canada.”

The Penguins face the Ottawa Senators on Thursday.

Without Malkin, Sullivan appeared to opt for the least disruption. Kasperi Kapanen stuck on the second line with Brock McGinn, the combination beside Malkin in the final game before the break.

Evan Rodrigues filled the third-line center role with 6-foot-7 Radim Zohorna and Danton Heinen. The Penguins’ top line remained intact.

However, fans will notice the Penguins lines have a distinct WBS Penguins flavor, especially the fourth line, comprised entirely of players who began the season in the AHL and two of three who are WBS regulars.





Extra: O’Connor-Chaput-Puustinen

Edit: PHN added the fourth line with Brian Boyle, Dominik Simon and Zach Aston-Reese.





Penguins radio play-by-play Josh Getzoff also noted that spare defenseman Mark Friedman cycled on the second pair with John Marino.

Of course, the Penguins require a few WBS Penguins in the lineup as Jason Zucker (core muscle surgery), Teddy Blueger (broken jaw) and Malkin are out. Malkin will be out until Saturday, though last week, defenseman Chad Rudhwedel was placed in protocol then played in the next game. Sullivan declined to explain the elaborate process by which Ruhwedel tested out of protocol.

“We don’t have the time…” Sullivan quipped then.

Without Malkin, the Penguins top power play was also adjusted with Sidney Crosby, Kris Letang, Rodrigues, Jake Guentzel, and Bryan Rust.

The Pittsburgh Penguins begin the figurative second half of their season Tuesday against the Boston Bruins at the TD Garden. The Penguins are three points ahead of the Washington Capitals with one game in hand and 16 points ahead of the first team out of the playoffs, the Detroit Red Wings.

Check back for updates.

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now Editor-in-Chief, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight, NHL Home Ice. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

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D1VE is Dumb
D1VE is Dumb
9 months ago

Did Boyle and ZAR have maintenance days or did I miss something?

9 months ago
Reply to  D1VE is Dumb

I think something’s off about the lines here. Dan mentioned Zahorna on Rodriguez’s right and nothing about Simon. Something tells me that the 4th like was Boyle centering ZAR and Simon with a 5th line of O’Connor-Chaput-Puustinen. I mean, I wouldn’t be surprised to see O’Connor or Puustinen get a game in with Simon on the wing IF Boyle and ZAR are out. But, the Simon/Zahorna thing tells me that there’s something wrong with the lines listed.

Tim Curtis
Tim Curtis
9 months ago

Malkin in Covid protocol?
Maybe now the Penguins can start a new winning streak!

Robert Shoemaker
Robert Shoemaker
9 months ago
Reply to  Tim Curtis

I wonder how many other 2nd line centers have 13 points in 12 games and their fans wanting them to be traded.

9 months ago

You’d be surprised. I’m on a Nashville fan page and I can’t count how many of their fans want to trade their best forward in Forsberg 🤦🏻‍♂️.

I get that the rest of the team’s play style has changed since Malkin returned, but that’s not his fault. And, maybe, just MAYBE, it could have to do with some players simply needing a break after so many games in such a short window…

9 months ago

I’m a Geno fan, but let’s face it, the Penguins have thoroughly proven that they can win without him.

9 months ago
Reply to  David

Again when? In 91 and 92? Dude was 5–they haven’t won a cup without him since he was 5! So zip your lip!


[…] returned. Head coach Mike Sullivan opted for limited disruption. But lines are subject to change. Pittsburgh Penguins lines and practice […]