Stop us if you’ve heard this before. The Penguins will be without a center for at least a few more games. No, not that world-class center—the other one. Sidney Crosby’s battle to get back in the lineup has stolen all the headlines, but now Evgeni Malkin is scheduled to miss the Penguins next two-game road trip. The advantage to having an embarrassment of riches at center is that the Penguins have a replacement when they lose one of those Hart Trophy winning centers. The bad thing is they don’t have an answer when they lose both of them at the same time. (see: last season).
Here’s the news from Shelly Anderson at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
“The Penguins have arrived in Winnipeg, but the team reports that center Evgeni Malkin and three other injured players did not make the two-game trip, which includes a game against the Jets on Monday and a game at Minnesota on Tuesday.”
The official word is that Malkin has soreness in the right knee that he had surgery on last season. You’ll remember that was a season-ending surgery that forced the former 2nd overall pick to miss 39 games. This isn’t the kind of news fans wanted while they wait for that other center to get back on the ice.
Even while recovering from last year’s injury, Malkin has still looked good in the few games he’s played in the early season. He’s missed three of the last four games, yet he’s still managed a goal and three assists for the Penguins this season. Not bad for a guy who has only played in three games this season.
The Penguins showed at the end of last season that they are capable of getting by without Malkin and Sidney Crosby in the lineup. Strong defensive play, great goaltending, and spreading out the scoring responsibility helped the Penguins finish with the 4th seed last season. They’re already using the lessons learned from last season to tread water until the superstar duo gets back on the ice.
The next opportunity Malkin will have to return will be at home on Thursday night against the Montreal Canadiens. As widely reported, Crosby was cleared for contact last week and is also battling to get back into the lineup as soon as possible. Either way, the Penguins could use one of those guys sooner rather than later.