The Penguins made it down to New Jersey ahead of their game Thursday night against the New York Islanders and practiced today. Three big names were missing from the ice in Evgeni Malkin, Brian Dumoulin and Kris Letang. Here’s how the team looked:
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First the good news: Dumoulin was allowed to go back to Pittsburgh to be with his newborn and is expected back in time for the game on Thursday against the Islanders.
Malkin’s spot had assistant coach Mark Recchi as a placeholder, another good sign. Recchi isn’t considering a return to the NHL at age 51, a good sign for Malkin’s availability on Thursday. After practice coach Mike Sullivan called it a “maintenance day” which translated out of hockey means “we didn’t want to push him coming back from injury after he played last night”. “Maintenance” typically means the player is expected to play the next game.
Now the not so good news, not much of an update on Kris Letang. Sullivan said Letang is “continuing to be evaluated, so I don’t have an update on him”. Which the day after a game really sounds like “I don’t want to tell you the evaluation” at this point. Usually not the greatest of signs. The Athletic hinted towards a groin injury but beyond that nothing is out from a good source about what the issue could be.
Sullivan was also asked if Letang was out, would he tinker with mixing around defense pairings and he hedged with a “not sure” and mentioned it was being debated currently. With another lasting shot “if” it would be needed that Letang was going to be out, which wasn’t something he was ready to confirm or deny yet.
At this point though, it looks like that is a bridge the Penguins will have to cross but we will see what if anything changes in the build up to the next game.