Today’s first day of on ice activity for training camp brought with it an update about Evgeni Malkin. The star center had knee surgery on June 3rd, after getting injured in March, coming back but clearly playing through pain in the playoffs in May.
The news isn’t ideal:
Penguins general manager Ron Hextall said Evgeni Malkin, who is recovering from offseason knee surgery, is not going to play for at least the first two months.— Pens Inside Scoop (@PensInsideScoop) September 23, 2021
Hextall’s words are vague in the sense he didn’t say Malkin will be back in two months, but that he’s not going to be playing for at least two months. A subtle but important difference to detect.
The season begins on October 12th and the Penguins play eight games in October, before playing 14 in November and five more before December 12th. Overall Pittsburgh plays 13 games in December.
If Malkin were to miss exactly two months of the season, that’s 27 games already that will pass. And that seems to be the bare minimum, so it could quickly get to the point where the center is out for about half of the 82 game season pretty quickly.
The Pens also opened camp without their other franchise center in Sidney Crosby, who is recovering from a September wrist surgery that could sideline him for the first handful of games in the regular season. In some good news as far as Crosby goes, he has been skating regularly this week prior to the Pens’ practices on his own.
As far as Malkin goes, Pittsburgh will be in an unfortunate but familiar position of not having No. 71 available for quite some time after today’s announcement.