Plenty of big-name players won’t be able to suit up for their respective teams, but Evgeni Malkin is coming back for the Pittsburgh Penguins (who host the Columbus Blue Jackets in a Game 1 that’s about to start up).
The team announced that Malkin, 27, will center a line featuring regular partner-in-crime James Neal and also Jussi Jokinen:
Malkin has been sidelined since March 23 with a foot injury.
Naturally, the big question is whether Malkin will be close to 100 percent from a health standpoint (not to mention how much of an impact rust might have on his game). Of course, the counterpoint could be that, unlike many other players, Malkin was spared a couple weeks of the grind during a season when he also dealt with the emotional roller coaster of the 2014 Olympics.
Either way, he’s back, so we’ll see if the Penguins can play like the favorites they seem to be.