-- This is becoming uncomfortably familiar to the Pittsburgh Penguins
-- being without not only superstar Sidney Crosby
, but also former Art Ross
Trophy winner Evgeni Malkin
Malkin, who is recovering from season-ending right knee surgery in February, will sit out the Penguins’ home opener Tuesday against Florida (7:30 p.m. ET, Versus, TSN2, RIS) with an undisclosed lower-body injury. He was held out of Sunday's 2-1 shootout loss in Edmonton with the same problem, one coach Dan Bylsma
said is not related to the knee injury.
Rather, Bylsma said Malkin is having "soreness," and it isn't a major worry, although it is obvious the Penguins don't want to take any chances with a player who tore the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in the knee in a Feb. 4 collision with the Sabres' Tyler Myers
Center - PIT
GOALS: 1 | ASST: 1 | PTS: 2
SOG: 3 | +/-: -1
Following a strenuous summer of work, and what Malkin described as a full recovery from the surgery, Malkin had a standout training camp before getting a goal and an assist in victories against Vancouver and Calgary last week.
Malkin was hurt during the 5-3 win against Calgary on Saturday. He tried skating during the pregame warm-ups in Edmonton on Sunday, but was in obvious discomfort and did not play.
"We don't think it's long-term or anything other than (him) just being sore at this point in time," Bylsma said.
Malkin was on the ice during the Penguins' morning skate Tuesday, but only took part in a few drills and was not part of their game-day line combinations.
A motivated Malkin had a standout preseason, totaling 3 goals and 4 assists in four games while skating effortlessly and with no apparent carryover from the knee injury.
For now, Bylsma again must try to win without two of the NHL's most skilled offensive players on the ice. Since Malkin was hurt last season -- about a month after Crosby left the lineup with a concussion -- the Penguins are 15-10-5 without the two former NHL scoring champions.
"You can certainly draw on it … you can understand that we can be good (without them)," Bylsma said. "At the same time, we're a long way removed from last year and that situation. This is a different group of guys and we have to show we know how to play and play the right way to have success. That's a new challenge that's different from last year. So the experience, while you hopefully can draw upon it and understand the way we know how to play, the guys on this team need to establish that."
The Penguins also were without defenseman Brooks Orpik
(sports hernia), who has yet to play this season. He aggravated the injury during training camp and did not take part in the morning skate.
Without Malkin, Mark Letestu
moved up to center a line with Steve Sullivan
and James Neal
, the line Malkin previously had occupied. Jordan Staal
will skate between Chris Kunitz
and Tyler Kennedy
The Penguins were 4-0 against the Panthers last season and have won five straight against them in Pittsburgh. Since the start of the 2007-08 season, the Penguins are 12-4-0 against Florida.