Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Malkin's back, Boychuk has been waived and Beau Bennett has been launched into the ether of NHL roster management bureaucracy. The Penguins may never see him again.
The Pittsburgh Penguins (14-8-0, 28 points) will look to shake off a week of miserable defensive play against the league's best offensive team in the Tampa Bay Lightning (9-11-1, 18 points) Monday in Pittsburgh, the second time the clubs will meet in just over a week.
Tampa Bay, after jumping out to an early lead in the Southeast Division, finds itself slipping from the Eastern Conference playoff picture after dropping seven of its last ten games.
Despite the defensive struggles of both clubs (the Penguins and Lightning rank 20th and 27th in goals against per game, respectively), their offenses are the top-two in hockey thanks to their top-two scorers, Sidney Crosby and Steven Stamkos.
Crosby and Stamkos shared the Rocket Richard Trophy in 2009-10 and are vying for Art Ross honors this season. Crosby leads the NHL with 34 points in 22 games, while Stamkos just trails him with 32 in 21 (with an NHL-leading 15 goals).
Pittsburgh will get back another Art Ross name in Evgeni Malkin Monday. Malkin missed the last three games with concussion symptoms but has been cleared for Monday's contest.
To make room for his return, Zach Boychuk was waived. However, waiver rules dictate that he remains part of the roster until being claimed or outrighted by Tuesday at noon. As such, Beau Bennett was "reassigned" to the AHL to clear the roster spot for Malkin.
Malkin had 21 points in 18 games before being hurt.