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World Cup of Hockey: Evgeni Malkin healthy, ready for clash vs. Canada in Pittsburgh

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Team Russia's Evgeni Malkin is back in Pittsburgh, focused and healthy ahead of the World Cup of Hockey and this week's exhibition game against Team Canada.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Evgeni Malkin and Team Russia are in Pittsburgh to prepare for their Wednesday night game against Team Canada, and Geno's given himself a green light in the health department.

Everything is good. It’s pretty strong right now. I worked hard all summer. Nothing is wrong, no pain. I played two exhibition games already and it was good.

Malkin's health will be an ongoing story for the 2016-17 season, which right now doesn't have too many burning questions entering the season (aside from the goaltending story that's already gotten so much play). Almost everyone is back, the team is generally healthy and stable right now. One item worth tracking is how much Malkin can play in 206-17.

Since scoring 50 goals in 2011-12, Malkin's missed an average of 19 games in the past four seasons (including 25 last season). Due to all this missed time, the incredibly productive Malkin has been able to crack the 75 point total in just one of the last 5 full seasons.

There's also now a "3" in front of Malkin's age with the center celebrating birthday number 3-0 over the summer.

I started workouts with (Sergei) Gonchar in Miami and after I worked a little bit on the ice in Moscow. After that we started training camp with the national team. It’s a pretty short summer, but it’s pretty hard work.

There's been some buzz about Malkin's training that he took his summer program very seriously, and dedicated more time than normal to getting prepared for the season. That would be a welcome change. Malkin's March elbow injury was a borderline candidate for the "Tommy John" UCL repair surgery that Eric Fehr went through last summer, and delayed the start of his season. Luckily for the short-term, the rest/rehab route was taken instead.

Hopefully Malkin enjoys a fun and healthy World Cup of Hockey before going on to the NHL regular season. However many games he's able to play in 2016-17 could go a long way to determining how the regular season turns out for the Penguins.