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Fast Paced Penguins Practice, Smiling Malkin Breakaway, 5v5 Fun

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Pittsburgh Penguins, Evgeni Malkin

Most good teachers know they won’t teach kids anything on the day before Christmas break. While visions of Red Rider bb-guns and GI Joe’s with the Kung Fu grip dance through their heads, sometimes the best you can do is let the class blow off some steam–which is what Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan did on Tuesday morning.

First, the injury updates: The injured players, including Evgeni Malkin, remained in white non-contact jerseys. Brian Boyle leaped back to full participation. Skills coach Ty Hennes was back at practice after his COVID protocol. He could be heard barking.

“His warmup drills are effective,” Boyle laughed.

Jason Zucker and Chad Ruhwedel had maintenance days. It was Zucker’s second straight maintenance day.

“They’re a little banged up, so it was a good chance to get them some rest,” head coach Mike Sullivan said.

The NHL abruptly decided to postpone the remainder of the games this week, including the Penguins home game Thursday against the Philadelphia Flyers, and begin the holiday break early. Teams won’t play again until Dec. 27.

So, the Penguins had a little, or a lot of fun, Tuesday with three types of scrimmages. They played short ice 3v3, dual net 3v3, and finally, a full-ice 5v5 go for about 10 minutes.

Evgeni Malkin was the class clown having a good time in his first somewhat competitive work since last season. You’ll be happy to know during Malkin’s shifts in the 5v5, no one went near him. No one within a Siberian mile. He also hung back like a defenseman in deference to his situation, but the smile on his face was impossible to ignore.

Malkin was banging the glass, celebrating every goal, pumping his stick over his head, and laughing like a kid on…Christmas. After months away from the team, his size is striking. Sometimes you forget just how big the 6-foot-3, maybe 4, center is compared to his teammates. He may be a little bulkier, too, or it may be my perception because I haven’t seen him in that context in a long time. Others in the media room didn’t seem to agree or notice.

However, Casey DeSmith denied Malkin on his breakaway in the 3v3 dual-net drill:

 

In case you wanted to see one of Malkin’s 5v5 shifts, we’ve got that too. You’ll notice he had the left wing to himself.

Someone cover Malkin! But not too closely.

Coming up on PHN, an introspective Brian Boyle discussed his second chance, and Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby reflected on the long-term implications if he doesn’t get back to the Olympics. Shelly Anderson and I are divvying up the stories for the week now.

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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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