Pittsburgh Penguins in hot water?

Things just seem to keep getting worse for the Pittsburgh Penguins, as the team learned Wednesday that they would be without star forward Evgeni Malkin for the rest of the season.

Malkin will undergo knee surgery on Thursday and is expected to be out of the lineup for six months.

Malkin tore his anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament in his right knee after he collided with Buffalo Sabres’ defencemen Tyler Myers in the second period of Friday night’s win over Buffalo. It was Malkin’s first game back after sitting out five games with a knee problem and a sinus infection.

In 43 games this season, he has 15 goals and 37 points.

This is horrible news for the Penguins after they learned Monday that they would be without Captain Sidney Crosby until at least March.

Crosby has been out of the Penguins lineup since January 5th after he was driven into the boards by Tampa Bay Lightning defencemen Victor Hedman.

Despite having both stars out of the lineup, the Penguins still have managed to put together a 4-2-0 record without the duo.

But, the Penguins know that they will not be successful in the playoffs if both players are injured going into the playoffs, so a return of Crosby as soon as possible is key. The team currently holds a 34-17-4 record, for 4th in the Eastern Conference, and 14 points in a playoff spot thanks to a hot start to the season.

Crosby, prior to getting injured led the scoring race, but now trails Daniel Sedin and Steven Stamkos. He has 32 goals and 34 assists in 41 games.

The big question is, for a Penguins team that has been successful over the past few years in the playoffs what does the absence of Malkin have on this team?

Adam Reid
adam_mapleleafs@hotmail.com

6 Comments

Quinn Mell-Cobb's picture

It saddens me to think of Crosby's point total would be at right now had he not been injured. The fact that he JUST lost the NHL scoring lead is a testament to how valuable he is to the Penguins and the league itself.

But as I've noted in my articles, the team has shown they can compete with one or both of Sid and Geno out of the lineup, and if there's any silver lining, Crosby should be returning at some point this year and with Malkin going on long-term injury reserve, that's a large sum of salary that the team can add to the payroll to improve at the deadline.

Adam Reid's picture

I agree, Quinn. I think if Crosby would have remained healthy, he would have surpassed 100 points by a fair margin, he is not that far behind, but returning to the game cold in March, and without Malkin there to set him up, there is no chance in taking the scoring title, he would need another rediculous scoring streak.

But, it is true that the team can compete, but that can only last for so long, once they end up playing strong teams, they will not be able to contend with their remaining guys. Fleury can only do so much in net, to keep the Penguins within a close game, without scoring, they could be in hot water!

George Prax's picture

This year has been weird for injuries all around, but the Pens got really unlucky here. At least they can take solace in the fact that they may be able to add a big contract or two now and salvage what they can when Crosby finally gets back.

Adam Reid's picture

That is true, George. It will take something catastrophic for the Penguins to not make the playoffs, but as to what they will do to replace Malkin while he is injured sure will be interesting. Malking plays a major role with Crosby, as being a set up man, and adding goals himself, without the dynamic duo, Pittsburgh will need to replace a fair bit!

Quinn Mell-Cobb's picture

Malkin actually hasn't played all that much with Sid this year, aside from the powerplay (occasionally Bylsma puts them together on a line, but he seems to prefer to keep them seperated and spread their talent throughout the lineup). That's a misconception many people make about the squad.

But regardless, his loss is huge, and everyone needs to pick up the slack.

Adam Reid's picture

Really, Quinn, I didn`t actually know that, that`s interesting. But, I would think when the playoffs roll around Malkin may have played on a line with Crosby. Therefore, it will be interesting to see what the club can muster up, in order to make this a successful playoff team.

Everyone needs to pick up the slack indeed, no matter what they do for compensation, a lot of the team needs to step up and lead the way.