Justin K. Aller

Evgeni Malkin suffers concussion February 22nd vs Panthers

Reigning league MVP Evgeni Malkin takes scary spill into the boards and his head snapped back violently in the third period of a Penguins 3-1 win over the Florida Panthers.

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Malkin did not skate Saturday.

This tweet went unnoticed by many yesterday.

93.7 The Fan reports (of course, without putting up an article anywhere on their website, so I'm not sure whether it was Eric Hagman or Jeff Hatthorn) that the only reason Evgeni Malkin did not skate was that the Penguins were unable to get an open sheet of ice for him.

So, the sky is not falling and the earth has not caved in upon itself. With a home game against the Lightning tomorrow, I'm sure that the team will be able to get Malkin as much ice time as he might need to continue his rehabilitation.


Evgeni Malkin puck trick

Who said rehab was all fun and no games? Evgeni Malkin uploaded the following video on his twitter account today:

Just a sick trick for Geno to pull, tossing a puck into the bucket from long distance. This video was taken today, apparantely, in Pittsburgh, where Malkin is skating with a few other people while the team is on the road. The Pens are in Carolina tonight and then they head to Montreal for a primetime game on Saturday before returning to Pittsburgh.

When the team returns, Malkin will get evaluated and maybe even take his cognitive tests and baseline tests to see if he is able to take the next step in his recovery from a concussion suffered on February 22nd against Florida. Based on the evidence above, it looks like Malkin is feeling pretty good and he's still got his coordination down pat, so again we just hope that no more symptoms kick up and he's able to hopefully rejoin his teammates in practice as soon as next week.


Malkin skates alone in Pittsburgh for 30 minutes

Evgeni Malkin was back on the ice, albeit by himself and in Pittsburgh.

The team practiced in Florida today, before they'll fly to Raleigh tonight ahead of the game tomorrow against the Hurricanes. After that, the Pens travel to Montreal for a Saturday night matchup in Montreal, and then they'll return to Pittsburgh.

Malkin won't be with the team for any of that, but it's great news to hear that he continues to have no symptoms and was able to skate a little by himself today.

The next big hurdle will come tomorrow when it's revealed if Malkin suffers any concussion type symptoms (namely headaches and/or nausea) in the interim from now until tomorrow. Ideally any and all symptoms will be in the rearview mirror, in which case doctors can check Malkin out as soon as Sunday and maybe even think about letting him rejoin the team for practices. If he can clear that hurdle and seem 100%, then a return to the lineup won't be too far off.

But, as any seasoned Pens fan will tell you, that moment is still a long way from now. For now, it's a minor victory to hear he's able to skate on his own.


Bylsma: Malkin has concussion, memory loss

Pens coach Dan Bylsma has confirmed the expected fear that center Evgeni Malkin suffered a concussion as a result of his crash into the boards on Friday night. From the Tribune--Review:

Evgeni Malkin has a concussion and short-term memory loss, Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said Sunday night.

"He is feeling fine and his memory is returning," Bylsma said. "The short-term memory in instances he didn't remember is returning."

Malkin was injured Friday night on a hard collision into the boards during a win at home over Florida.

Bylsma said Sunday night that Malkin's symptoms are limited specifically to the memory loss.

Multiple sources told the Tribune-Review that Malkin was also experiencing severe headaches and disorientation Saturday morning.

With that, Bylsma also said that Malkin will not travel with the team or play during the three game road trip this week that will see Pittsburgh travel to Florida on tuesday before going to Carolina on Thursday and then Montreal on Saturday. The Pens will then return to Pittsburgh and play Tampa Bay next Monday, March 4th.

There's a lot of ways to intrepret this- it's good Bylsma was forthcoming and the team has at least officially announced the injury and some timeline details, out all this week, as to be expected. It seems like a good sign that Malkin hasn't experienced a lot of symptoms, and the best hope is Bylsma's report that Malkin's "returning" memory could indicate the lessening of the symptoms.


Crosby: Evgeni Malkin feeling better today

Ok, so it's not scientific, it's not from a doctor and no one but Sidney Crosby could tell you any better about the good days and bad days that come along from a head/neck injury, but this quote is still refreshing to see.

It goes to show that Evgeni Malkin is still in some contact with his teammates, which a lot of times injured NHL players disappear and keep their distance from their healthy counterparts that need to concentrate on the business at hand for the season.

It's also just good to hear, even second hand, that Malkin is feeling OK today less than two days removed from his fall into the end-boards on Friday night. The Trib's other writer, Rob Rossi, reported yesterday that Malkin had "severe headaches" and "mild disorientation" yesterday, which considering the impact he took is pretty reasonable.

The Penguins have not yet offered a timeline or an official diagnosis of Malkin, past saying he's out for tonight's game. Ideally, his symptoms would already be behind him, and that would start with having another good day tomorrow. One would think after the symptoms clear, the team and player would try the next step and have him return to a practice to see if he can physically handle that. If that goes well, then you could begin to think about getting back in a lineup.

As we painfully learned with Crosby, this could take months. But, as we also learned, each person is different and each person's brain and head can recover at dramtically different rates. We don't yet know if Malkin is at the beginning or the end of his road to recovery, and to speculate would be careless. It's just nice today to hear through Crosby that Malkin is feeling OK at this time.


Pens lineup decisions without Evgeni Malkin

It's impossible in the salary cap era to replace a #1 center who just won the scoring title last season.

Unless you're the Pittsburgh Penguins and you just so happen to have two #1 centers who have won scoring titles and league MVP's in the past.

There's no doubt that if Evgeni Malkin has suffered a serious head/neck injury, the Penguins season is dead in the water. Just as it was two years ago when Malkin and Sidney Crosby both suffered season ending injuries. Teams just can't win it all when they're down such a huge piece of the puzzle.

That said, Pittsburgh is still a really solid and very capable hockey team even if #71 or #87 are out of the lineup. We know Malkin will miss tomorrow's game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, if he has to miss more (and he almost certainly will) where do the Pens go from here?

Move Neal up with Crosby

James Neal was acquired with the idea to play with Crosby, but Crosby was hurt and Neal has had undeniable chemistry and results playing with Malkin. Neal also struggles without having a great playmaking center, always has since his days in Dallas when he scored goals when he played with Brad Richards, and didn't when he was apart. The same held true in Pittsburgh when Neal scored just 2 goals in 27 games (regular season and playoffs combined) when Neal had Jordan Staal and Mark Letestu as his centers.

Putting Crosby with Neal is a no-brainer. That leaves one of either Chris Kunitz or Dupuis to round out the line. Personally, to give the second line a little more scoring and playmaking punch, I'd keep Dupuis with Crosby and put Kunitz on the second line.

Big chance for Sutter and Jeffrey

Without Malkin the Penguins need someone to step into the second line center role, and the best candidates are Dustin Jeffrey and Brandon Sutter. Jeffrey's been mainly a healthy scratch, and while he probably isn't a true productive top 6 player, he does have the hands and ability enough to think the game to be a decent band-aid.

Sutter has played in more of a third line role throughout his career, but he's also a guy who's scored 20 goals in a season at the NHL level when he was with Carolina. Sutter has the skill to be a decent option there too.

Youngsters need to make mark

There's still an opening for either Beau Bennett or Zach Boychuk to make their mark. Withou Malkin, the team will need goal production and some more power play time will be opened up. Both Bennett and Boychuk has some skill, but neither has made a huge impact in the NHL yet. If there was ever the time for an opportunity, it may be right now.

Without Evgeni Malkin, the Pens don't pack nearly the scoring punch and the opposition can load up their best checking and defensive pair to try and shut-down Crosby/Neal without much worry of another line being too dangerous. That's a disadvantage, but an unavoidable one.

Here's how we see the lines shaking out until Malkin is able to return

Dupuis - Crosby - Neal
Kunitz - Sutter - Bennett or Boychuk
Cooke - Jeffrey - Kennedy
Glass - Vitale - Adams

Bylsma updates Evgeni Malkin condition

After an optional practice today, Dan Bylsma spoke to the media for the first time about how superstar center Evgeni Malkin is doing. From penguins.com:

Malkin left in the third period of the Penguins’ 3-1 victory Friday night at CONSOL Energy Center after sliding hard into the end boards. He did not return in the game and did not participate in the team’s optional practice at Southpointe Saturday.

“He’s still being evaluated as to the extent of the hit and going into the boards hard,” Bylsma said. “That’s an ongoing process at this point in time.”

Bylsma said the Penguins are following the NHL protocol for testing.

“There’s nothing to expect from this point,” Bylsma said. “He’s getting evaluated. We’re waiting to see how he feels and reacts. He went into the boards pretty darn hard. We’re not expecting any timeline to the injury or anything.”

This is about all the Penguins can and probably will say for a while. Bylsma famously gave Sidney Crosby a one week prognosis with a "mild" concussion in January 2011 and Crosby ended up missing over 11 months. Other players feel better within days.

So we're back to square one. It's frustrating, but for right now no one really knows anything. The words "concussion" and "whiplash" and all sorts of things will pop up, but with these kinds of injuries, I think we've all learned it's how the player is feeling and what sort of symptoms (if any) he has as hours and days go by until you can really know how long he might be out.

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