The Pittsburgh Penguins practice was sans a pair of big-name players, but it doesn’t necessarily look serious. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were notably absent.
The team practiced at PPG Paints Arena on Monday morning. Casey DeSmith and Ryan Poehling were also not on the ice. Poehling skated earlier in the morning with Letang.
“Sid, Geno, and Casey were all sick. That’s why they didn’t practice today,” Coach Mike Sullivan said. “Ryan Poehling skated with (assistant coach) Ty (Hennes). He’s dealing with an upper-body injury.
“Hopefully, they’ll feel better tomorrow. They weren’t feeling well today. We felt it best to keep them away from the rink.”
As Dave Molinari reported, Kris Letang skated before practice. You can see the story and the Letang video here.
Sullivan didn’t seem to replace either Crosby or Malkin in the Penguins’ lines. Rather than shuffle the available centers, current 13th forward Danton Heinen slotted between Jake Guentzel and Rickard Rakell.
Teddy Blueger took Malkin’s spot on the second line with Jason Zucker and Bryan Rust. The Penguins’ second line had 10 points in their 6-2 win over the St. Louis Blues on Saturday.
The third line was untouched, though Josh Archibald rotated on the line.
The Penguins do not currently have enough salary cap space for a call-up, unless they place Letang on LTIR. As of Monday morning, the Penguins have not yet done so, per PuckPedia.com‘s roster report.
The Penguins practice with 10 healthy forwards and one goalie. Dustin Tokarski would be a likely emergency call-up if DeSmith cannot play on Tuesday.
Penguins Lines at Practice:
The Penguins’ defense pairs remained intact, too.
The Pittsburgh Penguins did have an event scheduled for the afternoon at PPG Paints Arena, but PHN confirmed the event did not contribute to the absences.
The several absences limited the Penguins’ drills to line rushes, skating drills, odd-man rushes, and some special teams’ work. Associate coach Todd Reirden instructed his power play to specifically work against the Columbus Blue Jackets PK style, which attempts to take away the middle.
Malkin had three assists on Saturday to increase his season points total to 24 points (8-16-24). Crosby added the empty netter. Crosby is ninth in NHL scoring with 33 points (13-20-33) and leads the league in even-strength points (28). Crosby is one ahead of red-hot Jason Robertson of the Dallas Stars, who is currently on an 18-game scoring streak.