Evgeni Malkin, Brian Dumoulin resume practicing with the Penguins
The last time Evgeni Malkin completed a hockey game, he was not happy.
He had scored the only goal in the Penguins’ season-opening 3-1 home loss to the Sabres on Oct. 3. Having watched the majority of his teammates mostly sleepwalk through an unwhelming performance, Malkin laid it down and dared them to pick it up.
“We need to play faster. We need to play hungry,” Malkin bemoaned. “How we played tonight, we need to change.”
Two nights later, Malkin was injured in an awkward collision into the boards, but his teammates heeded his advice and blasted the Columbus Blue Jackets, 7-2, on Oct. 5. Without Malkin in the lineup, they’ve gone 6-4-0 and have outscored the opposition, 31-25.
Malkin has noticed.
“We (did) not play great the first game,” Malkin said after he practiced with his team Monday in Cranberry, the first time he’s skated with the squad since being injured. “But the second, third and the last three games, the team (played) amazing. It’s only important if we work hard. We have skilled guys. We have a good power-play unit. We need (to) work hard the whole game.
“I hope when I’m back, we (will) keep going to win. I missed lots of hockey. I want (to be) back soon and to help team to win.”
Malkin practiced for most of the session in a red noncontact jersey and appeared to have few physical limitations. He suggested he could return to the lineup for Saturday’s home game against the Edmonton Oilers.
During his convalescence, Malkin was busy as he pursued United States citizenship.
“My child, he has an American passport,” said Malkin, a native of Magnitogorsk, Russia. “It’s my second home. I’m here (13) years. Maybe he go to school. My wife (is) here. I don’t like U.S. fight against Russia. We have rules in Russia. You have two passports. It’s nothing bad. I’m OK about that. My child has two passports. I’m fine.”
The initial report of Malkin taking steps toward U.S. citizenship came from Sports.ru, a Russian news site, which reported, at length, of Malkin losing approximately $4 million in a blockchain, or cryptocurrency, startup in his home country. According to the report, his involvement with the startup could present legal issues for Malkin.
Malkin offered something of a dismissal of the story while speaking with Pittsburgh media after practice.
“No, forget it.” Malkin said. “Garbage. I don’t like that, you know.
“I don’t want like this right now. It’s garbage for me. I knew I’m a good guy. I don’t know what to say about that. A little like bit crazy this morning for me. I know it’s nothing bad for me.”
Forward Alex Galchenyuk and defenseman Brian Dumoulin appear ready to make a more immediate return for Tuesday’s home contest against the rival Philadelphia Flyers. Both players practiced in regular jerseys had had no restrictions.
Sullivan described each of them as “game-time” decisions.
After playing in a 4-2 home win against the Dallas Stars on Oct. 18, Dumoulin participated in warmups for a 3-0 home loss against the Vegas Golden Knights the next night but was a last-minute scratch and has not played since.
“We had (games on back-to-back nights),” Dumoulin said. “We don’t come in in the mornings. We knew we had to play right away. I was trying to play through something. I got in warmups but I just couldn’t do it.”
Galchenyuk, who has not played since Oct. 8 due to an undisclosed ailment, has been skating with the team since Friday when he flew to Dallas and participated in a practice at American Airlines Center.
With those regular members of the roster on the verge of returning, the team assigned forwards Joseph Blandisi and Adam Johnson to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Monday evening.
Malkin lauded their contributions, along with rookie forward Sam Lafferty, during the team’s surge.
“Now, we have five good lines,” Malkin joked. “The young guys, they did a great job. They helped so much.”
Malkin might be in a position to help in the near future.
Seth Rorabaugh is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Seth by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .