In a season rife with injury, the Pittsburgh Penguins have now lost one of their biggest stars.
Evgeni Malkin has suffered a foot injury that will sideline him for the next 2-3 weeks, head coach Dan Bylsma confirmed on Tuesday. The news comes two days after Malkin logged huge minutes in Sunday’s 1-0 loss to St. Louis, playing 24:32 while firing a game-high seven shots on goal — even though Malkin got hurt on his first shift, per Bylsma.
As mentioned above, this is just the latest in a long line of injuries to hit the Penguins this year. They’ve dealt with bad health all season and are currently without the services of Kris Letang, Pascal Dupuis, Tomas Vokoun, Paul Martin, Beau Bennett and Chris Conner, all of whom are on IR.
That said, the timing of this latest setback isn’t so bad.
Pittsburgh doesn’t have an awful lot to play for — they’ve all but wrapped up the Metropolitan Division already and, according to Sports Club Stats, have a 97 percent chance of finishing as the East’s No. 2 seed behind Boston — so it’s possible Malkin is being shut down (for what looks to be the duration of the regular season) as a potential precautionary measure.
Of relief to Malkin is foot injury NOT serious in terms of lengthy absence. Expectation is to be back for Round 1 of playoffs. #pens
— Rob Rossi (@RobRossi_Trib) March 25, 2014
The injury will also give some lesser lights the opportunity for extended minutes at center. Brandon Sutter and Marcel Goc become the No. 2 and 3 middle men in Malkin’s absence.