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Pens announce Evgeni Malkin is “week-to-week” — a look at what that means

What does “week-to-week” mean in Mike Sullivan speak? A look at how long Evgeni Malkin might be out

NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins at Buffalo Sabres Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

The Penguins announced today that they will be without center Evgeni Malkin on a “week-to-week” basis.

OK, so what does that really mean?

Unfortunately, we have enough of an injury history in the last two months to pretty much put a timeline on Mike Sullivan’s injury speak. Generally, the tiers go, with translation:

  • Maintenance day: “I’m giving him a practice off, but we think/hope he won’t miss the next game.”
  • Day-to-day: “He’s injured and unable to play, but fairly close and we will keep re-evaluating and seeing what the next day brings.”
  • Week-to-week: “He’s injured to the point where a return isn’t on the immediate horizon.”
  • Longer-term: “He’s out for a while. Don’t bother thinking about it.”
  • Says what surgery that happened and says out 6+ months (the worst case scenario, when a player has to have a major surgical produce and is known to be out, likely for the rest of the season/playoffs).

Here is an actual chart of the injuries this season with official Sullivan-speak and timelines.

First though, remember that each player is different, each injury is different. Some can heal quickly and be played with, some (like Mark Friedman’s apparent head injury) really can’t be rushed.

Pens injury timetables 2021

Player Injury date Sullivan designation/date Return date Time missed
Player Injury date Sullivan designation/date Return date Time missed
Evgeni Malkin 3/16 Week-to-week (3/19) ?
Teddy Blueger 3/15 Longer-term (3/16) ?
Jared McCann 3/7 Day-to-day (3/9) 3/20* 13 days*
John Marino 3/9 Day-to-day (3/11) 3/18 9 days
Mark Friedman 3/4 Day-to-day (3/6) ? 16+ days
Mark Jankowski 2/25 Day-to-day (2/27) 3/4 7 days
Jason Zucker 2/23 Longer-term (2/25) ?
Kris Letang 1/30 Day-to-day (2/1) 2/6 7 days**
Jared McCann 2/6 Day-to-day (2/9)*** 2/27 21 days
Jared McCann 2/6 Week-to-week (2/10) 2/27 21 days
Brian Dumoulin 1/26 Week-to-week (1/28) 3/6 39 days
Marcus Pettersson 1/19 Week-to-week (1/21) 2/16 28 days
Juuso Riikola 1/19 Longer-term (1/21) 3/9**** 49 days
Evan Rodrigues 1/24 Longer-term (1/25) 3/6 41 days
Mike Matheson 1/15 Longer-term (1/17) 2/6 22 days

Notes from above:
* This assumes McCann will return tomorrow (more below)
** The Pens had COVID game postponements which may have extended the time out
*** At first, McCann was “day-to-day” per assistant coach Todd Reirden (when Sullivan was in COVID quarantine himself), the diagnosis was adjusted by Sullivan and elevated to “week-to-week”
**** “Return date” is counted as when Pittsburgh removed Riikola from IR

So what can we takeaway?

First, Sullivan isn’t going to give much information until typically 2+ days after injury. This is because the Pens don’t practice or offer updates every day, but often Sullivan will delay an extra day and cite an injury evaluation for a bit longer.

Second, almost all day-to-day injuries usually mean missing 7-10 days from the lineup, though there are exceptions that could linger.

Week-to-week this year has ranged from 3-6 weeks of being out of the lineup. Keep this in mind for Malkin, since Sullivan put him in this category.

Mike Matheson exceeded expectations by getting back in three weeks after being initially tagged “longer term” but the other two injuries that have healed this season with that coach prognosis have been out 6-7 weeks. This is certainly not good news for Blueger, who was dubbed longer-term earlier this week. Zucker has been out 3+ weeks now, with no expected return date anywhere close to in sight.

On Malkin, Sullivan’s comment of “we are certainly encouraged that hopefully we will get him back in a timely fashion” might be a hopeful reason to expect him perhaps even towards the early end of the typical 3-6 week window. Then again, Malkin is also 34 years old and likely dealing with some sort of knee/leg injury, and how that will heal and allow him to rehab and return remains unknown.

14 of the Penguins next 18 games are against teams in the division not in playoff positioning, so as far as that goes at least their road ahead will be relatively easy to attempt to tread water before the stretch run, when they should be getting their other superstar center back.

In somewhat good news, Sullivan has also deemed Jared McCann a “game time decision” for tomorrow. McCann took another step forward today, fully participating in line rushes, and all signs are pointing towards his return tomorrow.

As far as Malkin goes, the news certainly could have been worse than deeming him “week-to-week”, but it will still be a major hole in Pittsburgh’s lineup for the foreseeable future.