Malkin making progress, but won’t travel with team to Buffalo

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The Pittsburgh Penguins’ lengthy injured list still isn’t getting any shorter, but coach Mike Sullivan said on Monday that injured players Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Olli Maatta are all making progress in their recovery from their various injuries.

None of them, however, are ready to return, and that includes Malkin as he continues to recover from an upper body injury he suffered in Calgary when attempting to block a shot.

Sullivan said that even though Malkin is making progress, he will not travel with the team to Buffalo their game against the Sabres on Tuesday night.

He has not yet been ruled out of Thursday’s game in Ottawa, however.

Said Sullivan (via Pens Inside Scoop), “We just think it’s a better situation here for him to rehab. So he won’t play in Buffalo and then we’ll go from there”

Along with the aforementioned names, the Penguins are also playing without Carl Hagelin, Bryan Rust, Trevor Daley and Ron Hainsey, a pretty significant group of players that includes two of the best players in the league (Malkin and Letang) and several key contributors to the 2016 Stanley Cup team (Hagelin, Rust, Daley, Maatta). Their health more than anything else seems to be their biggest obstacle right now when it comes to making another run at the Stanley Cup, perhaps even more so than any potential playoff matchup. Health and having all of your key players in the lineup at the same time is a key when it comes to winning in the postseason, and right now the Penguins are as banged up as any team in the league.

Still, even with all of the injuries the Penguins are on a 7-2-1 run during their first 10 games in March and are keeping pace with the Washington Capitals and Columbus Blue Jackets when it comes to the top spot in the Metropolitan Division and the Presidents’ Trophy race. The fact that Sidney Crosby and his line, which includes Conor Sheary and Jake Guentzel, are tearing up the league is certainly making things easier for the team right now.

The Penguins will clinch a playoff spot with a win in Buffalo on Tuesday.

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