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Penguins Concern: No Malkin in Line Rushes, Carter 2C, DeSmith Absent

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Pittsburgh Penguins Evgeni Malkin

Skating with Skills Coach Ty Hennes is usually a rehab assignment reserved for Pittsburgh Penguins taking their first step from the injured list to the ice. Penguins star center Evgeni Malkin took the ice for about an hour before the Penguins main practice at PPG Paints Arena.

As he appeared all week, Malkin was solid but perhaps not truly aggressive with his edges and on his skates. Take that for what you will, whether he’s banged up, taking it easy, or not yet confident on both legs.

 

Malkin played in the final four regular-season games and appeared to be making progress, but missed the third period of the season finale in what head coach Mike Sullivan termed a “tweak” of Malkin’s lower-body injury, which most assume is a knee.

In another sign of concern for the Pittsburgh Penguins, Malkin did not take part in line rushes on Saturday, nor did he participate on the first power-play unit. Instead, Jared McCann took his spot on PP1 and Jeff Carter took the second line with Kasperi Kapanen and Jared McCann. Freddy Gaudreau slotted as the third line center with Jason Zucker and Evan Rodrigues. Brandon Tanev continued his long-standing role with Teddy Blueger and Zach Aston-Reese.

Guentzel-Crosby-Rust

McCann-Carter-Kapanen

Zucker-Gaudreau-Rodrigues

Aston-Reese–Blueger–Tanev

The Penguins face the New York Islanders in Game 1 of their Round One at PPG Paints Arena on Sunday at noon. Head coach Mike Sullivan was already in playoff form.

“All players (except for Casey DeSmith) participated in practice and are a game-time decision,” he said bluntly.

It’s not like the Penguins aren’t used to do dealing with adversity and injuries. As one of the most injured teams in the NHL, including missing Malkin for 23 games, the Penguins claimed the MassMutual East Division and the No. 1 seed.

Malkin did participate in additional drills with the team after the line rushes. Perhaps Mike Sullivan is pulling a Hayden Fox at the Pineapple Bowl? (Coach reference).

In another bad sign for the Penguins, backup goalie Casey DeSmith was absent from practice. DeSmith left the ice after he appeared to suffer an injury or aggravate his recent injury at practice on Friday. DeSmith left the ice with an outburst of frustration.

UPDATE: Sullivan said DeSmith is out, and is day-to-day with a lower-body injury, which is related to his absence at the end of the regular season.

Maxime Lagace, who was the Penguins’ third goalie for most of the season, was the second goalie at practice. Lagace earned a 1-0 shutout over the Buffalo Sabres in the season finale. The shutout was the first NHL shutout of his career and his first NHL win since Dec. 9, 2017.

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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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Katz
Katz
4 months ago

I think this is a stronger lineup vs the Islanders. Let Malkin get better, the Islanders are not a team that will beat you with offensive creativity, but they will beat you in transition vi turnovers and bad decisions. A less that 100% Makin is a liability . Hope he doesn’t dress just to go on the 1st PP.

Eric
Eric
4 months ago

like sands through the hourglass the Malkin soap opera continues. I really hope he gets healthy, and finds the desire to play high level hockey in the future, but I also hope he finds another team to do it for.

David
David
4 months ago
Reply to  Eric

It’s apparently heresy to say those words, but I agree; I too am done with the constant injuries, costly turnovers and selfish penalties. The guy has not aged well. Look at our record while he was out for his most recent injury — they jumped to first.

MrNails
MrNails
4 months ago
Reply to  Eric

You forgot “hot take.”

Frank
Frank
4 months ago

Here are some “givens” as respects Geno. First . .. he is most definitely injured to some unknown but significant degree. Second . .. were he not so, he would be critical to the success of the Penguins in this series. Third . .. though in large measure not his fault or doing he is now officially what a playoff teams does not need . . . a distraction. Because of that third item the team has a better chance of success in what is going to be a very hard series to win even with Malkin healthy. If he… Read more »

David
David
4 months ago
Reply to  Frank

I think the guy has been a net negative for several seasons now. He is a talented player when he wants to be, but he’s moody and prone to selfish penalties when unhappy — which seems often, He’s not a consistent asset and often doesn’t show good hockey smarts. He also has a recent tendency to just go through the motions and become invisible on shifts. The team has done well when he’s out of the lineup and that suits me fine, in his current form. He’s riding his rep from his early years.

William Maloni
William Maloni
4 months ago

We all seem to agree, don’t play Geno until he is “ready.”

No need yet to rush him back; post-season surgery candidate?

crazyhorse87
crazyhorse87
4 months ago

That is still a damn good line combinations.

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[…] teammates on Saturday, less than 24 hours before they open up their First Round Series with the Pittsburgh Penguins. The appearance of Varlamov should be a strong indicator that the veteran netminder is healthy and […]

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[…] Malkin was on the ice for practice on Saturday, but did not participate in line rushes or power-play drills, according to Pittsburgh Hockey Now. […]

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