Skip to main content

Penguins' Malkin feels good after practice

by Chris Adamski

CANONSBURG, Pa. -- Nine days after a scary collision with the boards, Evgeni Malkin was back on the ice with his Pittsburgh Penguins teammates Sunday.

The reigning NHL scoring champion and MVP reported he "feels pretty good" after going through an optional practice at the Penguins' suburban practice facility.

"It was good to practice on the ice today with the team and [absorb] contact a little bit," Malkin said in his first comments to the media since losing his balance and sliding violently into the boards during the third period of a win against the Florida Panthers on Feb. 22. "And I feel good now."

Evgeni Malkin
Evgeni Malkin
Center - PIT
GOALS: 4 | ASST: 17 | PTS: 21
SOG: 60 | +/-: -4
Malkin's neck jerked forcibly when his back hit the boards behind the Florida net. Because he experienced short-term memory loss on the day of the collision, he was diagnosed with a concussion.

But Malkin has been symptom-free for a week, and he skated on his own twice while the Penguins were on a three-game road trip. Malkin, who has missed four games in all, was cleared for contact in practice Sunday.

"We saw him go through three drills designed to provide him with that contact," Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma said. "So he did have that down low and he did well today. He still needs to take an imPACT test. We're going on protocol."

Bylsma suggested Malkin could take that test Sunday. Theoretically, that could have him cleared to play in time for the Penguins' home game Monday against the Tampa Bay Lightning (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN2).

Malkin would not rule ou that possibility when asked, but did say he would be better served by going through more practices, and more rigorous workouts when he does practice.

"Good practice today, but need a couple more, I think," Malkin said. "Not hard today, just tough little bit to push my back and shoulders. But we will see. I feel pretty good, so we'll see the next step."

Malkin exonerated Panthers defenseman Erik Gudbranson for any blame in his injury. Gudbranson rode Malkin as Malkin skated hard to the net, contributing to Malkin's loss of balance. There was no penalty called on the play.

"It's just bad luck," Malkin said. "It's just I'm trying to shoot the puck and I lost a little bit of my control and hit the boards."

The Penguins are all too familiar with having a star player go through concussion symptoms. They lost their other former MVP and scoring champion, Sidney Crosby, for the better part of 14 months after he sustained hits to the head in January 2011.

Malkin said he has "no worries" his situation would get that serious.

"We have good doctors right now and I've had a couple practices and I'll see doctors again [Sunday] and we have a computer test, and after we'll see what's going on," Malkin said. "I'm just feeling good, and I'm glad."

The Crosby drama has trained the Penguins not to get overly encouraged or discouraged during daily updates of a player recovering from a head or neck injury.

"We have good doctors right now and I've had a couple practices and I'll see doctors again [Sunday] and we have a computer test, and after we'll see what's going on. I'm just feeling good, and I'm glad."
-- Reigning MVP Evgeni Malkin

"It's the type of injury you don't have any expectations for players and what they're going through and what the next step is going to be," Bylsma said.

"It's just been good to see Geno feel well and do well and skate and go through workouts and again today go through some contact drills in practice."

As is typical of an intrasquad practice, there was no heavy body checking, but Malkin did not shy away from contact. During one drill in particular, teammates rode him around the net as he fought them off and skated hard along the boards in an effort to get to scoring areas.

"He wants to test himself out with some battles and puck protection and things like that," defenseman Deryk Engelland said. "So he's making it through so far and he's looking good.

"He was the same Geno. It was good to see him out there."

Defenseman Paul Martin did not practice but skated on his own. Martin sat out Saturday's 7-6 overtime win at the Montreal Canadiens with a lower-body injury sustained earlier in the week.

Martin will not play Monday and is listed as day-to-day.

View More

The NHL uses cookies, web beacons, and other similar technologies. By using NHL websites or other online services, you consent to the practices described in our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service, including our Cookie Policy.