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Malkin, Bjugstad out "longer term"

by Sam Kasan @PensInsideScoop / Penguins

Over the past 15 years the Penguins have prided themselves on their depth at the center position. 

That depth is being tested now. 

The Penguins will be without centers Evgeni Malkin and Nick Bjugstad for an extended period of time. "Longer term" was the phrase used by head coach Mike Sullivan following Monday afternoon's practice. 

Malkin and Bjugstad suffered lower-body injuries in Pittsburgh's 7-2 victory against Columbus on Saturday. Neither injury is expected to be season-ending. 

Malkin is expected to be out longer than Bjugstad. The Russian pivot tripped over teammate Kris Letang in the game and felt into the boards. Malkin absorbed a check from Columbus' Vladislav Gavrikov. Malkin left immediately and did not return. 

Jared McCann, a natural center, moved into Malkin's slot on the second line during the game, while Teddy Blueger, the team's fourth-line center, was elevated to the third line. The Penguins have several forwards that can swing from center to wing, including McCann, Dominik Kahun and Dominik Simon. 

"Fortunately, we have some guys that we can put into the center-ice position that have a familiarity and comfort level there," Sullivan said. 

The Penguins haven't announced any plans on player(s) the club may recall from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. The center possibilities include Anthony Angello, Joseph Blandisi, Joseph Cramarossa, Adam Johnson and Sam Lafferty.

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