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Pittsburgh Penguins playoffs: Evgeni Malkin to return soon?

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The Penguins other star center is making his way back from injury after practicing again on Thursday and looking to ramp it up on Friday.

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Evgeni Malkin is making a lot of strides in his recovery from an injury suffered 5 weeks ago tomorrow that was said to put him out 6-8 weeks.

Coach Mike Sullivan, never one to speak a lot in details, was upbeat on Malkin as well.

"Geno had a great day," Sullivan said after practice. "We thought he looked really strong."

I don’t really have a timeline, but that’s our hope [that Malkin returns at some point against the Rangers]" Sullivan said. "He’s a difference maker. He’s an elite player. We’re a better team when he’s in our lineup."

Then again, after the mind games Sullivan played before pulling the ol' switcheroo with Marc-Andre Fleury and Jeff Zatkoff , who knows with Sullivan. Either way, it will be nice to see Malkin rejoin the team at practice tomorrow and make a tangible step closer to getting back into a game sooner or later.

Malkin also looked good taking some contact.

Should Malkin miss exactly 6 weeks from his initial timeline, he would be available for Game 5 of this series. Any earlier and he would exceed that timeline, obviously.

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The latest on Fleury seems good too, but after yesterday, who knows. From the team:

*Fleury missed the final five regular-season games and Game 1 due to a concussion. He has practiced all week and even took part in the team’s morning skate on Wednesday, but did not start or even fill the backup role.

"I was just not right to play yet. That’s the reason why I didn’t play," Fleury said.

Even though he did not dress for Game 1, Fleury said that he has not had any setbacks in his recovery, and hasn’t ruled out playing in Game 2 on Saturday afternoon.

"It’s still a work in progress," Fleury said. "It’s moving along and getting better. Hopefully, it’s good enough for Saturday."