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NHL COVID update: Hughes brothers, Malkin enter protocol

Jack Hughes

NEWARK, NJ - NOVEMBER 30: Jack Hughes #86 of the New Jersey Devils skates during the first period against the San Jose Sharks at the Prudential Center on November 30, 2021 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

NHLI via Getty Images

The NHL is set to return from the 2022 All-Star break on Monday and a couple of prominent players -- including an All-Star -- were entered into the league’s COVID protocols.

Evgeni Malkin enters COVID protocol

After missing the first half of the season as he recovered from offseason surgery, Evgeni Malkin was able to work his way back into the Pittsburgh Penguins lineup in the middle of January. It briefly gave them a complete roster for the first time all season. But as soon as that happened more injuries started to mount (Jason Zucker, Teddy Blueger) and now Malkin himself has been entered into the league’s COVID protocol on Monday.

In 12 games this season Malkin has 13 points (five goals, eight assists) for the Penguins. With Malkin and Blueger sidelined for Tuesday’s game against the Boston Bruins it definitely puts a bit of a dent in their center depth. Jeff Carter will almost certainly move into the second-line role with Malkin sidelined, while it could also temporarily shift Evan Rodrigues back to center where he excelled earlier this season.

Hughes brothers enter protocol

After participating in the NHL All-Star weekend in Vegas, New Jersey Devils forward Jack Hughes was placed into the league’s COVID protocols on Monday.

It continues what has been a tough season for Hughes who already missed a significant portion of it due to injury.

That announcement from the Devils comes on the same day as his brother, Vancouver Canucks defenseman Quinn Hughes, was also placed into the league’s COVID protocol.

[Related: NHL injury update: Eichel cleared for contact; Rask not practicing this week]

Winnipeg Jets place three players in COVID protocol

The Winnipeg Jets announced on Monday that they have placed three players in the league’s COVID protocol: Defenseman, Neal Pionk, forward Pierre-Luc Dubois, and forward Austin Poganski.

Pionk and Dubois are the most significant names here as they are two of the Jets’ most productive and best players.

They have three games this week and are currently mired in a slump that has seen them lose eight out of their past 10 games. They are now on the Western Conference playoff bubble where they are barely hanging on to their postseason chances.

Alex Ovechkin could play on Tuesday if he is cleared

Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin was unable to participate in the 2022 All-Star weekend after he entered the league’s COVID protocols this past week.

Head coach Peter Laviolette said on Monday that Ovechkin could play in Tuesday’s game if he tests out of the protocol before then.

That did not happen on Monday as he was not with the team at practice.

While his status for Tuesday’s game is not yet determined, it is already known that he will not be able to play in Thursday’s game in Montreal because he will not yet be allowed to travel to Canada following his positive test less than a week ago.