If you’re a fan that spent a lot of time voting for your favorite Penguins superstars to be starters in the All-Star Game it’s been a rough week for you.
Yesterday it was announced officially, after initial reports surfaced, that Sidney Crosby would be missing the game because of his concussion issues. Today, the Penguins broke news that Evgeni Malkin would also miss the game thanks to a sinus infection he’s been dealing with of late. Penguins coach Dan Bylsma broke the news this morning.
“Evgeni Malkin was not out on the ice today and will not be in the game tonight,” Bylsma said. “He will also not be going to the All-Star Game this coming week due to the sinus infection, illness – he has symptoms that prevent him from going on the ice at this time. We’ll continue to keep him off the ice.”
Malkin’s missed the last couple of games and will miss tonight’s game in Pittsburgh against the Islanders. Malkin joins Crosby, Ales Hemsky, Jarome Iginla, Tobias Enstrom, and Jordan Eberle as players that were supposed to take part in All-Star Weekend but will now miss out thanks to either injury or excused absence.
Of those players, we’ve seen Iginla have a replacement named for him in Philadelphia’s Daniel Briere. Minnesota’s Martin Havlat will also apparently be joining the festivities in Raleigh as an injury replacement according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie. As for everyone else, nothing has been announced as of yet but you’re looking at two forwards, one defenseman, and one rookie to fill vacancies. Names like John Tavares, Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley, and Keith Yandle are making the rounds for discussion.
The Thrashers are hanging on to the eighth spot in the East right now by a thread and with the pile of injuries they’ve dealt with it’s no wonder the opinion on their play has cooled off quite a bit. Today they get a bit more bad news finding out that all-star defenseman Tobias Enstrom will miss the next 2-4 weeks with a broken finger.
Enstrom’s emergence as not just an offensive force but also as one that’s more responsible in the defensive end of the ice is a credit to coach Craig Ramsay. For all the success teammate Dustin Byfuglien has had as a defenseman this year, Enstrom is worthy of equal praise for improving his game. His presence will be sorely missed in the Thrashers lineup. Enstrom is tied for first on the Thrashers in scoring with Byfuglien with eight goals and 33 assists.
Enstrom’s injury also means that he’s out for the All-Star Game this weekend. Enstrom was selected for his first appearance as an all-star and with his absence, an opening is there to be had on the blue line for either Team Staal or Team Lidstrom. We’d suspect that if the NHL selects a replacement for him rather than choosing from amongst the rookie group, we’ll see Phoenix’s Keith Yandle get a call to join in the festivities in Raleigh. Yandle is the Coyotes leading scorer with seven goals and 33 assists, good for 40 points.
Turns out that Sidney Crosby and Jarome Iginla won’t be the only All-Stars missing out on the big event in Raleigh next weekend. Edmonton Oilers Ales Hemsky and Jordan Eberle will be missing out on the festivities for All-Star Weekend thanks to separate ailments. Hemsky will miss out on the All-Star Game thanks to the concussion he suffered recently while Eberle will not be participating in the Skills Competition as part of the rookie contingency there due to an ankle injury.
Hemsky’s selection to the All-Star Game was a much-debated choice given the seemingly better candidacies of a handful of other players. With Crosby reportedly out of the game and the potential solution of choosing from rookie participants at the Skills Competition two spots are up for grabs. The case can be made that those spots should be filled by veteran players like Martin Havlat, Joe Thornton, or John Tavares but the league might opt for a more dramatic way of filling out the rosters by choosing to fill those spots on the teams from the rookie group.
Of course, now that rookie group is one light thanks to Eberle missing out. Who takes his position there will be debated but a couple possibilities you might see there are Capitals defenseman John Carlson and Penguins forward Mark Letestu. Expect to get announcements on how the league opts to fill Hemsky’s and Crosby’s spots in the All-Star Game soon while a replacement for Eberle should come in short order.