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Healthy, Hungry Malkin Returns to Pittsburgh

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

The final piece of the Penguins’ training camp roster returned Monday as Evgeni Malkin returned to the ice.

Malkin’s Penguins teammates were glad to have the reigning NHL MVP back, and the feeling was mutual.

“I missed Pittsburgh,” he said. “It’s very good to go to my house and now to see all the players.”

Malkin skates at training camp practice at CONSOL Energy Center

Malkin missed the first day of training camp with his teammates on Sunday due to travel. Over the past week he has flown from Magnitogorsk to Moscow to New York City to Pittsburgh. Malkin arrived in Pittsburgh late Sunday and, despite having little sleep and transitioning from the time change, still skated for over two hours with his teammates on Monday.

“He didn’t get a lot of sleep, the time change, he got up early for his physical, it was a long practice, it was a long day,” head coach Dan Byslma said of his star player.

Malkin played the past three months in the Kontinental Hockey League with his hometown team in Magnitogorsk. And he is clearly still the best player in the world. In 37 games, he scored 23 goals and 65 points.

“I worked every day, practices and games,” Malkin said. “One big change is just the bigger ice (surface). I needed a couple games to (adapt) because of the bigger ice and more skilled guys. There’s not as much shooting, more passing.”

Malkin is now back with Pittsburgh. And he’s hoping to follow up an incredible 2011-12 season that saw him post 50 goals and 109 points en route to a triumvirate of NHL awards – MVP, scoring champion (his second career) and most outstanding player. Not bad for a player coming off of knee surgery.

“It was a lucky season,” he said with a smile. “I had a big injury and came back and played well. We had a great line, but we didn’t win the Stanley Cup. I want to win the Stanley Cup again. It’s my target right now.”

And Malkin returns to North America in full game shape. And more importantly, in full health.

“I’m ready,” he said. “I’m in good shape. I’m ready to play Philadelphia. The first game we’ve got to start hard with lots of hits. I have no injuries, nothing is sore. I’m ready to play.”

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