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Evgeni Malkin out once again tonight - time to worry?


James O’Brien

In what’s becoming a bit of a nagging issue for the streaking Pittsburgh Penguins, Evgeni Malkin will be out of the lineup for the second game in a row. Malkin also missed Saturday night’s game against Columbus as he’s dealing with a sore knee that’s causing him discomfort when skating.

Pens head coach Dan Bylsma has said that what’s ailing Malkin isn’t a structural problem in the knee, but it’s enough to keep him from playing at 100%. Malkin has been able to do OK this year scoring eight goals and 14 assists. They’re solid numbers, but not what you’d expect from a guy who is an absolute all world type of talent. If it’s the knee that’s been holding him back all along, then the Pens, winners of nine in a row, will only get better when he gets back in the lineup.

If there’s a bigger problem here, should the Penguins be worried? We know that Sidney Crosby has been out-of-this-world good this season. After all, he’s leading the league in goals and points and the Pens certainly wouldn’t be on their current hot streak without him. You have to think though that things will slow down at some point and defenses will be doing their damnedest to concentrate to try and stop Crosby. This is where having Malkin come into play becomes a big deal.

We don’t know when (or if) the Crosby gravy train will slow down, but having Malkin there to pick up the slack is where the Pens strength can come from to make them a thoroughly frightening team.