Penguins notebook: Injury keeps Malkin out against Sharks
By Josh Yohe
Published: Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013, 11:45 a.m.
Hockey's hottest player has been cooled by an injury.
Penguins center Evgeni Malkin, who has surged to second in the NHL in scoring, suffered an injury in Thursday's morning skate and, according to coach Dan Bylsma, is day-to-day.
Malkin participated in line rushes with his usual linemates, James Neal and Jussi Jokinen.
However, he appeared to injure himself while skating close to the Consol Energy Center boards and left the workout while the rest of his teammates were still on the ice.
It did not appear as though Malkin was struck as no Penguins were in the vicinity when he suffered the injury.
Any contact in a morning skate would be an accident; the Penguins save the majority of their contact drills for non-game days.
With Malkin out, the Penguins used Jokinen at center on the second line against the San Jose Sharks on Thursday night.
Bylsma likes the combination of Brandon Sutter, Andrew Ebbett and Chris Conner in the third line and generally doesn't like to disrupt combinations.
Jokinen played at center late in the 2012-13 regular season when captain Sidney Crosby was out with a broken jaw.
Malkin struggled to find the net in October but erupted with a marvelous November, producing 25 points. He has been named the NHL's No. 1 star of the week for two consecutive weeks and has registered 19 points in his past nine games. Bylsma took a moment to question those who were critical of Malkin's play during November. Earlier in the month, the center snapped a streak that saw him go 15 games without a goal.
“Geno's month of November has been, at least from the media (standpoint), maybe the least spectacular month of anyone's career,” Bylsma said. “There was a lot of heat and pressure and question marks in the first 20 days of that month. He quietly put up multi-point games early in that month. And he certainly caught fire at the end of the month.”
Now Malkin has caught the injury bug.
He last played a full season during the 2008-09 campaign.
Since then, Malkin has missed 79 regular-season games and seven playoff games because of injuries to his knee, shoulder and because of a concussion.
Malkin and Crosby have shared the Consol Energy Center ice for games against Western Conference teams only 10 times in the arena's four-year history.
That trend continued Thursday, and Malkin's availability for Saturday's game at Boston remains unknown.
On the bright side
Bylsma did have some positive injury news.
Defenseman Rob Scuderi and left wing Tanner Glass have taken strides toward returning to the lineup.
Scuderi is five weeks removed from suffering a broken ankle in Toronto. He has skated four times on his own during recent sessions away from the team.
Only a couple of weeks removed from being on crutches, Scuderi is making rapid progress and could be in the lineup sometime before the Christmas break.
“His last two have been more rigorous,” Bylsma said.
Glass, out with a broken hand, also has resumed skating and, according to Bylsma, is “probably another week away from joining the team in practice.”
Warm welcome for TK
Former Penguins right wing Tyler Kennedy received a partial standing ovation from the Consol Energy Center crowd following a video tribute in his honor midway through the first period. The video showcased his memorable goal in Game 4 of the 2009 Stanley Cup Final, when Kennedy finished off a tic-tac-toe play to give the Penguins a 4-2 lead against Detroit.
Before Thursday's game, Kennedy acknowledged that his return to Pittsburgh was an emotional one.
At the end of the ovation, Kennedy raised his stick to the crowd.
Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @JoshYohe_Trib.
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