Penguins' Malkin returns for limited practice
SAN JOSE, Calif. — Were he the coach of Penguins' opponents, Dan Bylsma acknowledges he'd feel they "were easier to deal with" because superstar center Evgeni Malkin has missed five consecutive games with a strained right shoulder.
Teams should probably get their licks in over the coming days, because Malkin returned to the ice for practice Saturday — albeit in a limited and no-contact capacity — for the first time since a home game against Montreal on Oct. 28.
"I'm not shooting hard, but when I skate, my shoulder is not sore," Malkin said before the Penguins played the San Jose Sharks at HP Pavilion. "It's very tough for me. I played three years without an injury.
"Hopefully, I only need (to miss) a couple of more (games)."
Bylsma did not identify a set return game date for Malkin, whom he shut down for a minimum of two weeks Oct. 29 after a magnetic resonance imaging test showed no significant damage to a right shoulder that has bothered Malkin since the second week of October. Malkin had not missed any games since not playing in four straight to open his rookie 2006-07 season.
Without Malkin, Penguins center and captain Sidney Crosby has bared the brunt of opposing defensive focus — not to mention averaged an additional two minutes per game.
Crosby was looking to keep from being held without a point for a fourth consecutive game last night, which would have been a career-worst stretch.
Goose has juice
Defenseman Alex Goligoski was surprised to be questioned about his status against the Sharks, even though he didn't practice Friday and the Penguins promoted defenseman Deryk Engelland from their AHL affiliate.
Engelland was told of his promotion Friday night, only a few hours after Bylsma described Goligoski as "just worn down, a little bit tired."
Goligoski had played at least 20 minutes in 10 straight games before last night. He had hit that mark in 13 of 16 games after matching it in 11 of 45 last season — his first in the NHL.
"Through the regular season it can build up," he said. "But it's not something I'm really worried about right now."
Bylsma described Engelland's recall as "a precautionary measure."
Penguins president David Morehouse has used the club's trek through California to educate himself on technological advances in video and audio in preparation for the opening of Consol Energy Center next year.
A new, 18-by-24 feet display board at HP Pavilion will closely resemble the one inside the Penguins' new arena, he said; though he shared some differences that should please fans.
Both units will feature two LED rings above a four-sided hanging video board with another LED ring below. However, the unit at Consol Energy Center will contain video scoreboards built into the video board screens and additional LED panels on the board's corners.
Limited communication during their first days together played a big role in helping Sharks center Joe Thornton and left wing Dany Heatley develop on-ice chemistry following Heatley's offseason trade from Ottawa.
"It's not really that black and white with anything," Heatley said. "When I first came in here, we didn't really talk. He just said, 'Let's play, work hard and let things happen.' That's the thing with linemates' chemistry: You never know what's going to work."
Around the boards
Right wing Tyler Kennedy did not practice before the game and missed his fifth of sixth contests with an undisclosed injury, believed to be of the lower-body variety. ... The Penguins will not practice today; they are scheduled to travel from San Jose to Boston, where they will practice Monday and play at the Bruins on Tuesday to wrap a four-game trip.