When Evgeni Malkin went down with a brutal right knee injury last season, it was a blow to the Penguins lineup they absolutely could not afford with Sidney Crosby already out with a concussion. Losing both of their superstar centers at the same time proved to be something the Penguins couldn’t totally overcome in the end as they were bounced out of the playoffs by Tampa Bay in the first round in seven games.
With the severity of Malkin’s injury and his tenacious work ethic in rehabbing his knee after surgery, the next step for him is to get the knee’s health back to 100%. With the long summer break leading up to training camp in mid-September, Malkin is working hard to get back into action.
Sam Kasan of Penguins.com gets the word from Malkin about how good his knee feels and where he’s at in his rehabilitation process.
Malkin, a former NHL scoring champion and playoff MVP, says his recovery is going well. He expects to be back to 100 percent by the start of Penguins training camp in mid-September, and believes he will not be limited at all during the camp by his knee.
“It feels better everyday,” said Malkin, who turned 25 years old Sunday. “It’s good, but not 100 percent yet, maybe 90. I’m skating it hard, but my knee feels good. Soon I will try (full speed). I push it more each day.”
This is great news for the Penguins as getting Malkin back fully recovered will give them at least one of their big time stars to have at the start of the season. With Sidney Crosby’s progress still slow in coming back from a concussion suffered in early January, the Penguins still aren’t quite sure if they’ll have him at the start of training camp and ready to go.
While the Penguins weren’t overly busy in free agency, getting both Malkin and Crosby back will make all the difference in the world for Pittsburgh offensively. The team learned to become a lot better defensively all around last year with both of them out, but if you can inject their offensive production into that lineup with better defense, the Penguins shape up to be that same juggernaut-like team they were before things blew up on them last season.
No, the Nashville Predators did not forget how to score goals … or at least they were lifted from that amnesia on Wednesday.
Mike Fisher lifted the curse 13:52 into the first period of tonight’s game against the Buffalo Sabres. You can watch that rare beast in the video above.
They had been shut out for three straight games and pretty close to four in pure game time.
On this subject, PHT’s Jason Brough asked Predators GM David Poile if he was considering moving a defenseman to improve in another area earlier today.
Tyler Ennis can probably relate with the Buffalo Sabres’ opponent on Wednesday, as he’s struggling almost as much as the Nashville Predators.
Perhaps some of that has to do with health?
Whether that’s the case or not, Ennis is out for the Sabres tonight, as the team announced that he’s dealing with an upper-body injury.
The Buffalo News discussed Ennis’ struggles in this article.
“I’d say he’s pressing too much. You can’t make those plays in every situation and in every point you touch the puck,” Dan Bylsma said to the Buffalo News. “ … He’s just got to simplify his game. He is a special player who can make those plays, but he can’t be trying to do it every time he touches the puck.”
He’ll need to wait a while to start getting things together, anyway.
You can check out tonight’s Wednesday Night Rivalry doubleheader on NBCSN, and you can also stream them online.
Here are the handy links for the two contests.
First, the New York Islanders host the Philadelphia Flyers.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
After that, the Chicago Blackhawks visit the San Jose Sharks.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
The San Jose Sharks will be missing a top-4 defenseman tonight when they host the defending champs from Chicago.
Justin Braun has an upper-body injury. His status is considered day-to-day.
“Brauny has been one of our unsung heroes here through the first quarter of the season,” coach Peter DeBoer told CSN Bay Area. “He’s played some outstanding hockey. So, we’re going to miss him, but it’s a great opportunity for Mueller and Tennyson and one of these guys to establish themselves. It’s a great opportunity for us to reward Dillon for how well he’s played.”
Against the Blackhawks, Brenden Dillon will take Braun’s spot on the top pairing alongside Marc-Edouard Vlasic; Paul Martin and Brent Burns will stay together on the second pairing; and 20-year-old Mirco Mueller will skate with Matt Tennyson.
Mueller has played just four games for the Sharks this season. In his last game, Thursday in Philadelphia, he received only 9:13 of ice time.
Also tonight, new Shark forward Dainius Zubrus is expected to debut on the fourth line.
Related: Sharks sign Zubrus, because DeBoer