Pittsburgh Penguins Travel Without Evgeni Malkin


The Pittsburgh Penguins will be missing their current team leader in points on their weekend road trip, as center Evgeni Malkin recovers from injury.

Evgeni Malkin participated in the Pittsburgh Penguins‘ game on Tuesday night, a 6-5 shootout win over the Ottawa Senators where he put in 19:13 of ice time and garnered two assists.  He also took part in Pittsburgh’s practice the following day, without any injury being apparent, as reported by Jenn Menendez of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

It isn’t extremely clear where Malkin’s injury stems from, but according to the Post-Gazette article, head coach Mike Sullivan indicated it is something that “has been nagging him for a little while.”  General Manager Jim Rutherford seems to think that the injury was sustained in the game against the Senators on Tuesday evening.

In either case, the Penguins are down a man, and not just any man.  Their team leader in points.  A primary catalyst behind their offensive machine.  Without Malkin playing pivot for Pittsburgh, their weekend road trip to Florida just became that much more challenging.

Jan 23, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (71) steps onto the ice after being named first star of the game against the Vancouver Canucks at the CONSOL Energy Center. The Penguins won 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

The Penguins will be facing two of the best teams in the National Hockey League this weekend.  With a trip to Tampa to face the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday night, followed by a jaunt east across Florida towards Miami to see the Atlantic Division leading Florida Panthers, Pittsburgh will need all the firepower they can muster.  Ben Bishop and Roberto Luongo are two of the best netminders in the league, with each ranking in the top six overall for Goals Against Average.

Additionally, center Eric Fehr suffered an injury in the team’s contest against the Senators on Tuesday night, and will be unavailable for the road trip.  In fact, Mike Sullivan indicated that Fehr’s injury could leave him out of the lineup for about a month with what is being termed a significant lower-body injury, as reported in the Post-Gazette.  Count centers number 2 and 3 down.

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In response to Fehr’s injury, the Penguins have called up center Oskar Sundqvist from their AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre / Scranton.  Sundqvist, who will be making his first NHL appearance, has 16 points (5 goals, 11 assists) in 39 games this season at the AHL level.

We also need to keep in mind that the Penguins are a better team at home (15-7-4) than they are on the road (10-10-3), so to say they have their work cut out for them on this trip is an understatement.  However, this is the type of challenge we need to see for Pittsburgh.  Yes, they can and will win with their all-world superstars in the lineup.  But can they win against the league’s best teams and goaltenders when missing Malkin?  What happens if Sidney Crosby or Phil Kessel get injured?  This road trip will be a good barometer for how we can expect the team to perform when the chips are stacked against them as we head into the push for a playoff position.

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