Fallout from Stamkos fight? Malkin out at least a couple games

Fighting can earn you some respect from teammates. Sometimes it’s just one of those things that happens when tensions run high.

Throwing punches with the same hands that you make delicate, high-skill plays can also be highly risky, which is why fans sometimes cringe when star players drop the gloves. It’s difficult to avoid making such a leap upon hearing that Evgeni Malkin is expected to miss at least a couple of Pittsburgh Penguins games with an upper-body injury that might have happened thanks to his fight with another star, Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

“Right now he’s day-to-day with an upper-body injury,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “He will not play tonight or this weekend. We are hopeful that this is a short-term thing and he’ll be back in our lineup soon.”

Malkin had appeared in all 50 Penguins games this season, and such health luck hasn’t always been there for the fantastically skilled forward, as he played less than 70 games per season from 2013-14 to 2016-17 (and appeared in only 31 of 48 regular-season contests during that funky lockout season of 2012-13).

Playing with an edge likely benefits Malkin’s game – at his scariest, Malkin seemingly imposes his will on opponents, looking very much like the 6-foot-3 he’s listed at – but that rage can also result in taking risks like these, not to mention occasional reckless penalties.

Losing ground could really sting the Penguins, as they’re currently ranked second in the Metro, but only narrowly so.

Following the Nick BjugstadDerick Brassard trade, GM Jim Rutherford made a vague comment about the Penguins not having all of their centers healthy, so he likely was referring to Malkin there.

Interestingly, the Penguins noted that they’re hoping that Bjugstad and Jared McCann might actually play on Friday against the Ottawa Senators, on the same day that they were traded.

More on that significant trade

A quick breakdown on the pieces, and how they’ve been performing.

Wider outlook for the Penguins’ future, and that of the Panthers.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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