The Pens left for Florida following their Thursday practice at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex without Evgeni Malkin and Eric Fehr.
“’Geno’ is not going to be on the weekend with us,” head coach Mike Sullivan said. “He’s got a lower-body injury. He’s going to rehab it over the weekend. We’re going to evaluate him when we get back and go from there.”
Sullivan said that Malkin – who collected two assists in Tuesday's 6-5 win over Ottawa after attending the All-Star festivities the weekend before in Nashville – did not sustain the injury at practice on Wednesday, where he was a full participant.
“It was brought to our attention after practice,” Sullivan said. “But it’s been something that has been nagging him for a little while.”
This weekend will mark the first stretch of time Malkin will miss due to injury this year. He currently leads the Pens with 49 points (23G-26A) in 48 games played.
Sullivan said they have yet to decide who will fill in for Malkin at center between Carl Hagelin and Phil Kessel over the weekend. During line rushes, Matt Cullen skated with the two speedy wingers.
The Pens will be thin down the middle entering their back-to-back set starting Friday against the Lightning and ending Saturday against the Panthers, as Sullivan said Fehr is out with a “significant” lower-body injury.
“It’s going to be longer-term,” Sullivan said. “It’s not season-ending. It’s nothing that severe. But it’s significant enough that it’s going to be longer-term.”
When asked how long Fehr will be out, Sullivan said it’s difficult to put a time frame on.
“Everybody reacts differently,” he said. “I think you’re looking at probably a month.”
Fehr is a key member of the Pens’ penalty kill, and his presence will be particularly missed there. But Sullivan is confident a few guys will be able to handle an increased workload there, naming Tom Kuhnhackl, Bryan Rust and Kevin Porter.
“Everybody is going to have to step their games up and for some guys, it’s going to be an opportunity to show what they can do,” Sullivan said. “I believe we have enough depth in our organization that we’ve got enough guys that we can do our best to fill that role.”