Start the clock. The Pittsburgh Penguins are getting closer to a fully healthy lineup than at any point since the first week of the season. It’s been a long time since the Penguins lineup has been together. Before the injuries began to stack up, the team was not yet jelling, but now the new players are fully integrated, the locker room has bought into head coach Mike Sullivan, and we may yet see the Penguins with four lines.
Evgeni Malkin, Brandon Tanev, and Frederick Gaudreau will make the Penguins road trip which begins in Washington tonight. Both were full participants at the Penguins Wednesday practice. Though Malkin had a white non-contact sweater, Sullivan said he was a full-go.
“(Malkin and Gaudreau) will both travel with us. Geno participated full contact today in practice,” Sullivan said. “Freddy Gaudreau the same. Tanev skated with the taxi squad before practice today and is making progress. They’ll all travel with us.”
Pittsburgh Hockey Now: Sullivan surprise, Malkin cleared for contact.
The Penguins’ magic number is four points. Any combination of Penguins points and the New York Rangers losing points reduces the number and makes the Pittsburgh Penguins’ 15th straight playoff appearance official.
How Malkin fits into the Penguins power play and what it means for the lineup is a topic we’ll dive into later this AM on Pittsburgh Hockey Now. Malkin did take some time on the top power-play unit in practice, in place of Jared McCann.
The Penguins Lines at practice did not include Malkin, but they did include Gaudreau. However, if you notice, the new second line seems ready for Malkin.
PHN+: Jeff Carter has earned a prominent spot, too. We broke it down on film and why Mike Sullivan should be smiling like a butcher’s dog. Carter’s line has been a productive force.
NHL News & National Hockey Now
Vegas Hockey Now: Marc-Andre Fleury stoned the Colorado Avalanche. The down and dirty Vegas report card.
Sportsnet: Jonathan Drouin took a personal leave of absence from the Montreal Canadiens. It’s shocking, and we should be concerned for the person.
Scratch any speculation that Drouin checked himself into the NHL’s substance abuse program. That’s not true, according to the Canadiens. Regarding some dark criticism that hit social media–Athletes are humans, regardless of their salary. I don’t know what else to tell you on that one.
NYI Hockey Now: Potential Pittsburgh Penguins playoff opponent, the New York Islanders, are in a bit of a free fall. They can’t score goals. Barzal and Eberle haven’t scored since April 1. What is Barry Trotz waiting for–It’s time to put Kyle Palmieri on the top line.
Florida: Excitement is building in Florida. It really is. The Panthers punched their ticket to Lord Stanley’s ball.
It only makes sense the East Division is the last without teams clinching. The Rangers have done a nice job of keeping it interesting down the stretch. In fact, the Rangers could catch the Islanders–those teams meet twice this week.
NY Post: Larry Brooks believes the Rangers will seek a veteran defenseman for next season. And that they need one.
San Jose Hockey Now: Logan Couture lost his teeth. Again. You gotta see this hockey player’s smile.
Boston Hockey Now: Tristan Jarry isn’t the only goalie racking up points. Rask has an offensive streak going.