PITTSBURGH – The Pittsburgh Penguins have found a way to win games without star Evgeni Malkin this year, but on Saturday they found out they’ll need to probably do that for the rest of the 2010-11 season.
Coach Dan Bylsma told reporters on Saturday morning that Evgeni Malkin suffered a torn ACL and torn MCL in his right knee after a hit from Buffalo’s Tyler Myers:
“At this point and time, [Malkin] is discussing his options with doctors and what to do next,” Bylsma said. “Surgery is a possibility and I’m not sure if there’s rehab possibilities, but right now I just got the news on the MRI [results].”
Bylsma admitted this is obviously a big blow to the team already missing Sidney Crosby. “You’re talking about Evgeni Malkin, the quality of player that he is. A guy who’s won a scoring title and a Conn Smythe [trophy] and we were anticipating getting him back in the lineup and healthy and this obviously is a difficult injury for him. It was obviously a fluke situation going into the boards with a guy and it’s a tough injury for Geno.”
The Penguins have won nine of 10 games without Malkin this season and came back from a 2-0 deficit to win last night over Buffalo after Malkin left in the second period. “We have dealt with some games without him and we’ve found our way without him and that’s what we’re going to have to look at now,” said Bylsma.
The coach said he has not talked to Malkin yet. “He was gone before I had a chance to see him last night and he was at the doctor this morning.”
The timeline for Crosby’s return is still unknown at this point and the spotlight will now shine brighter on Jordan Staal. Bylsma said Staal has already been performing at that high level but doesn’t get the same media attention that Crosby and Malkin do. “There’s always been an impression on our team from the media and the talk about our team about Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. The shadow [on Staal], if there’s been any cast, has more been by the articles and the media attention, not by what he means to our team. We all recognize and our General Manager [Ray Shero] has been on record saying you win Stanley Cups with this guy. He’s been an important part of our team with the role that he’s played, with the minutes that he’s played. He’s really playing a similar role with us right now that he was playing in before.”
Pittsburgh will also be missing Arron Asham (upper body) and Mark Letestu (knee surgery) when they face off with Washington tomorrow at 12:30pm on NBC. Penguins defenseman Zbynek Michalek missed practice with what Bylsma termed a “maintenence day” but made the trip to DC with the team and is expected to be in the lineup.
The team will likely make another call-up from Wilkes-Barre Scranton (AHL). Brett Sterling and Ryan Craig will be leading candidates.