Although he did not practice Wednesday, Pittsburgh Penguins center and leading scorer Evgeni Malkin is expected to travel to Toronto and could be available to play Thursday against the Maple Leafs, coach Mike Sullivan said.
“He is going to make the trip,” Sullivan said after the Penguins practiced at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex. “We’re hopeful that he will be feeling better. But he will make the trip.”
Malkin was a late scratch Tuesday before a 5-2 win at home against Toronto. He left the pregame warmup early because he was ill. It would seem skipping Wednesday’s practice was precautionary.
In other injury/illness/absence news, if it seemed as if defenseman Brian Dumoulin was making slower than expected progress from his ankle surgery, Sullivan begs to differ. Dumoulin skated before practice, and apparently not for the first time.
He has been out since the first minute of a Nov. 30 game against St. Louis – going on 12 weeks.
“(Dumoulin) is making progress,” Sullivan said. “He’s skated the last couple of days. He’s, I think, tracking the right way. The fact that he’s on the ice right now is real encouraging.”
Sullivan said there is not yet a timetable for Dumoulin to play.
As for the somewhat surprising move to recall defenseman Zach Trotman from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League on an emergency basis – Trotman was not at practice, but the six defensemen who played Tuesday were full participants — Sullivan offered a bit of a mixed message on the reason.
“We have a few defensemen that are a little bit nicked up,” Sullivan said. “We thought when we travel … it would make sense to have an extra (defenseman).”
The takeaway is that Trotman offers insurance – presumably as a seventh defenseman — while the team is on the road, but the underlying concern might be Sullivan’s admission that the Penguins’ group of defensemen is not fully healthy.
The Penguins put rookie defenseman John Marino (facial surgery) on injured reserve to make a spot for Trotman.
Center Nick Bjugstad (core muscle surgery) continues to skate separately from practice.