Recurring soreness for Malkin
Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin who has missed four straight games and six this season, returned to practice today. Malkin is dealing with recurring knee soreness on his surgically repaired knee. He skated well today but didn’t have a great jump in his step by any means.
There is no long-term concern regarding the injury but getting rid of the recurring soreness has been a struggle thus far. However, there is some talk today that the Penguins are considering letting Malkin play tomorrow night against New Jersey Devils, which would be his first action in nine days.
If Malkin plays tomorrow night, will this be another situation where he’s in a game then out for the next couple? Surely can’t rule it out.
“If he were to play every game we would be dealing with soreness, ” head coach Dan Bylsma said on Thursday, explaining why Malkin hasn’t been in the lineup. “It needs to calm down. It needs to get better, ” Bylsma said. “By playing everyday it’s not going to get that way. Unfortunately we play everyday.”
The Penguins schedule doesn’t let up until next weekend.
Rest and treatment is said to be on the only real cure with Malkin’s knee issue and with four games in seven days to wrapup the schedule in October, starting tomorrow night against New Jersey, the Penguins should consider shutting down Malkin from game action for the rest of the month or at least until next Saturday’s matchup against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Penguins upcoming four game stretch has little rest time in between games with them playing Saturday vs NJD (10/22), Tuesday @ NYI (10/25), Thursday vs NYI (10/27) and Saturday @ TOR (10/29).
Following the Leafs game on the 29th, the team is off until Thursday, November 3rd when they travel to San Jose.
Tidits, Rumblings, Musings
*Nothing is concrete as of this afternoon but signs today pointed to Matt Niskanen and Deryk Engelland staying in the lineup tomorrow night vs the New Jersey Devils as Kris Letang comes off his suspension.
Niskanen is expected to stay in the lineup due to his ability to run the point on the second power play unit. The Penguins have been really pleased with his play there and ability to move up the puck.
“Depending on if Deryk Engelland brings a different element than Ben Lovejoy, it would sometimes be the opponent, ” Bylsma said today on whether the opponent will dictate who stays in the lineup.
Pretty hard to take Deryk Engelland out of the lineup who leads all Penguins defensemen in hits (20), blocked shots (15) and tied for team best +3 rating.
*The Penguins two highest paid defensemen, Paul Martin (-4) and Zbynek Michalek (-5) are a combined minus-9 through nine games.
*Mark Letestu was 11-for-15 on draws in Thursday’s 3-1 win. Letestu’s ability in the faceoff circle has been the only area he’s excelled at this season. He’s fully expected to be the odd-man out tomorrow night, if Malkin gets the green light to play.
*The Penguins go into Saturday’s game, 30-for-31 on the penalty kill. Surprisingly aside from Richard Park, they have not been very good on draws while shorthanded, an area overall they have been very strong at with Jordan Staal (52.7%), Mark Letestu (57.5%), Joe Vitale (54.9%) and Richard Park (59.0) all over 50% on the season.
PK Faceoff Numbers: Jordan Staal 11-for-25 (44%) | Craig Adams 6-for-15 (40%) | Joe Vitale 1-for-5 (20%) |Richard Park 10-for-13 (77%).