Thursday, October 29, 2009

Another big-name injury


Marian Hossa. Phil Kessel. Marc Savard. Andrei Markov. Johan Franzen. Ilya Kovalchuk. Sergei Gonchar.

Those are just some of the big-name players off the top of my head who have suffered injuries that will cause - or have caused - them to miss weeks, if not a month or two or more of action. And never mind injuries that cause players to miss a game or two here and there (Pavel Datsyuk, Marian Gaborik come to mind.)

Now, a bombshell was dropped at the Penguins' practice today when coach Dan Bylsma announced Evgeni Malkin, last year's leading scorer in the regular season and playoffs and the Conn Smythe Trophy winner, will be out two to three weeks with a shoulder strain. According to Bylsma, Malkin strained the shoulder approximately 10 days ago but had been playing through it.

Malkin hasn't scored a goal in, oh, approximately 10 days (OK, it was Oct. 20) but had notched three assists in the three games since and still has 14 points in 12 games.

"Obviously he has played with it and could gut it out, which is what Geno would be apt to do," Bylsma told Jason Seidling at practice. "At this time of the year the concern is the player and this is a precautionary measure."

According to Bylsma, rest and rehab is all it should take to fix the shoulder.

If one were to look on the bright side, one could say that now is a better time for Malkin - who had played in 254 straight regular-season games - to miss time rather than later, in the crucial stretch drive or worse, the playoffs. The Penguins also might possibly sort of be able to cope in his absence, if the top line of Chris Kunitz-Sidney Crosby-Bill Guerin plays like it did Wednesday, when the trio combined for 10 points.

At 10-2, Pittsburgh has also given itself the luxury of a little wiggle room. Bylsma also has Jordan Staal around to plug that No. 2 center hole, and enough role players to fill Staal's vacated No. 3 center position.

But let's be honest: You're not a better team when a player like Malkin has to miss time. (Although the Penguins won't need to kill as many penalties over the next couple of weeks. Malkin has 18 PIMs in those 12 games.)

The Penguins also played Wednesday without Tyler Kennedy, who is expected to miss Friday's game in Columbus. Kennedy has five goals and is tied for the league-lead with three game-winners.


Anonymous said...

This should help the Wild not get completely destroyed on saturday...

KiPA - Kevin in PA said...

I don't know. I have a bad feeling about that game.