Center Evgeni Malkin
skated at the Penguins’ Sunday night practice, while winger Patric Hornqvist
took the ice about half an hour after the session started and defenseman Christian Ehrhoff
did not participate.
Malkin and Hornqvist were only with the team because it was the only available ice time for the day.
“For Hornqvist, he didn’t partake in anything out there,” head coach Mike Johnston said. “’Geno’ did a couple drills and then skated on his own with (strength and conditioning coach) Mike Kadar afterward. So we’ll see. I still believe that Geno might be a couple days ahead of Patric, but there’s no set timeline on when they are going to play.”
Malkin (lower-body) has missed the last four games after getting injured on March 14 vs. Boston, while Hornqvist (undisclosed) has missed the last three after getting hurt on March 15 vs. Detroit. Neither player made the Pens' three-game road trip to New Jersey, Dallas and Phoenix this past week.
Johnston said while Hornqvist likely won’t play in the Pens’ next game on Tuesday vs. St. Louis, Malkin is a distant possibility. Either way, first the team needs to wait and see how the two players reacted to their time on the ice this evening.
“I would think for Hornqvist for sure, it would be out of the question,” Johnston said. “With Geno, it might be 50-50 or a little bit longer of a shot. It’s hard for me to tell because I want to see how the trainers feel how he reacted to the ice session today, the limited amount that he did.”
Ehrhoff was a late scratch for Saturday’s game at Arizona with a nagging injury that is not related to the concussion symptoms that forced him to miss a stretch of 18 of 19 games, which meant the Pens had to play the entire game with just five defensemen as they currently do not have an extra blueliner on the roster.
Johnston said they are going to wait and see how Ehrhoff is over the next couple of days before determining whether or not they need to call someone up from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
“We have to wait and just sort of see if everything settles down with him,” Johnston said. “Obviously with the travel day today, a long travel day with the flight, he didn’t skate so we will get an indication (Monday) from our trainers when they have Christian and Patric and Geno together.”
The Pens stayed the night in Arizona following the game Saturday and took their 4.5-5 hour flight to Pittsburgh this afternoon. They went straight to their practice facility at Southpointe for a rare evening skate.
The reason the Pens had such an unusual practice time was because under the collective bargaining agreement, each month the team is mandated to have four days where they are completely off – no travel, no meetings, no practices, nothing. So with the Pens already traveling today, they decided to skate right after so that way they could take one of those four days on Monday.
“You submit those days to the league and you look at the schedule ahead of time and have to find the four days with no travel, no meetings or anything,” Johnston said. “When we came back from Edmonton, I didn’t think we played as well against Edmonton and then we had the day off on the road, so I felt we had to get a skate in today. Then tomorrow, a good day off for everybody with nothing going on and then they come in for the game day skate the next day.
“So I was happy with what we got done. We had a couple drills we really wanted to focus on out there. It was mainly just getting in activity after the travel, getting back on the ice, getting a feel for things, working on some skills and one or two team play things."