Uh oh, both Malkin and Bjugstad won’t be playing hockey games in the near future.
Malkin and Bjugstad are both out longer term with lower-body injuries, per #Pens HC Sullivan -SK— Pens Inside Scoop (@PensInsideScoop) October 7, 2019
It was also noted that Malkin will be out longer than Bjugstad, and another note was mentioned that I have to agree with our friend Adam-
That doesn't really make it sound encouraging. https://t.co/5lHGrBfPyR— Adam Gretz (@AGretz) October 7, 2019
In Sullivan-speak though, this could be difficult to translate, especially since he was point blank asked by a reporter if it was a season ending injury and responded by saying no.
Usually after an injury a player who misses practice is either on a “maintenance day” (which typically means hurt enough that he needed to skip a day but fine for the next game).
Or a player will be classified as “day to day” or “longer term”. Obviously the former is the better as far as when to expect a return.
And if there’s a big, drastic injury — like Justin Schultz’s broken ankle last October — they usually will specify it and give a return time. So maybe just maybe, if you’re holding out hope for good news — being a little vague on the announcement could be a relatively good thing for Makin’s status, if you really want to dig between the lines but try to be optimistic.
But no two injury conditions or announcements are totally alike. We’ve seen last year a status on a Patric Hornqvist sound pretty dire and he was back playing within six or seven days. That doesn’t really seem to be the case here, especially for Malkin.
Maybe reports will zero in on exact injuries or recovery time, but certainly at this point it doesn’t sound very good for the Pens that Malkin will be back in the very near future.
On Monday, all eyes in Penguins nation would turn to see how much availability, if any, Evgeni Malkin would make at practice. The Pens had an off day on Sunday after recording their first win of the season, a 7-2 shellacking of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
However the win was clouded a bit by the loss of Malkin, who left the bench in discomfort after this awkward looking fall and collision in the second period.
As expected, after the game coach Mike Sullivan didn’t have much of an update:
“They’re both being evaluated right now,” Sullivan said of Malkin and fellow center Nick Bjugstad who also left the game with an undisclosed injury. “We’ll have more information tomorrow.”
Since the team was off, more information wasn’t released.
There’s never a good time to lose two centers in a single game —especially when one is at the talent level and importance to the team of Malkin — but now is an especially rotten time. Starting tomorrow night the Pens play four games over the next six days, so even a one week injury would be pretty costly. Pittsburgh also plays nine games in the 16 day stretch from tomorrow until October 23rd, a pretty hefty stretch of the schedule already should a two-three week injury be in play.
Evgeni Malkin just stood in the doorway of the bench in street clothes and stickhandled for a few seconds. We'll see if he practices today. Practice starts in eight minutes. #Pens— Matt Vensel (@mattvensel) October 7, 2019
But when practice began with the full team, neither Malkin nor Bjugstad were with the team.
Practice has begun...Malkin and Bjugstad are not on the ice. -DP— AT&T SportsNet™ PIT (@ATTSportsNetPIT) October 7, 2019
We’ll see what Sullivan says after practice or if any updates are coming about call-ups. The Pens have a bit of flexibility in the sense several of the players they normally use as wingers (Jared McCann, Alex Galchenyuk, Dominik Kahun) have a history or natural background as centers, which would help in the event they’ll be missing some regulars.
The Pens are good on the salary cap side - Bryan Rust must remain on LTIR for a few more weeks, so the team has up to $1.725 million as of today in space for the salary cap. The bigger issue would be the 23-man healthy roster limit.
If the Pens needed to call a forward up to potentially play tomorrow night, they would have to put Malkin or Bjugstad on the regular IR list (out a minimum seven days, can be back-dated to the injury time of Saturday) or they could assign one of their nine - NINE! - defensemen to the AHL. All but John Marino would have to clear waivers if they go that route.