In a move that was hardly a surprise, Penguins coach Dan Bylsma announced Tuesday that forward Evgeni Malkin will miss the NHL All-Star Game this weekend in Raleigh, N.C.
The twist is that it is not so much Malkin's left knee that is keeping him home; it is the pressure in his head from a sinus infection, Bylsma said.
Malkin, who has 15 goals, 37 points in 42 games, missed his third game in a row Tuesday night when the Penguins played the New York Islanders at Consol Energy Center. His absence initially was attributed to a problem with his left knee, which has bothered him off and on since late October.
Over the weekend, he developed symptoms of a sinus infection.
"He needs to get healthy before he can move forward," Bylsma said. "Is that during the [all-star] break? Is that after the break? We don't know that. We hope it's in the next week or so that he can think about getting back on the ice again."
Malkin's withdrawal came a day after the Penguins confirmed that center Sidney Crosby would miss the All-Star Game because of a concussion. He missed his ninth game.
That leaves the Penguins with two of the four players who were among the initial six all-stars chosen by fan-balloting -- goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and defensemen Kris Letang.
"We had guys who were supposed to come, and they have to take care of some other stuff, so I'm going to try to represent my team the best I can," Letang said.
Letang and winger Chris Kunitz were excused from practice Monday because, Bylsma said, they were ill. They returned for the morning skate Tuesday and were in the lineup against the Islanders.
Winger Matt Cooke missed the morning skate because of what Bylsma termed "family matters," but played in the game.
Penguins goaltender Brent Johnson has been busy searching for new and better equipment.
He has been breaking in all-black pads for months -- "I've been in my other equipment for almost a year and a half," he said -- but had to have the equipment sent back for tweaks.
"I'd like to get into the new pads soon," he said.
He also has tried a graphite stick in practice.
"They're a little tougher to control the rebounds with because [pucks] hit and bounce right off," Johnson said. "But, once you get used to them, they're not so bad."
He plans to sick with a wood model in games, but he still is looking at adjustments.
"I'm trying a new curve," he said of his blade. "I'm not shooting the puck very well. I want to help the guys out, get it up high off the glass and out [of the defensive zone] if needed."
He is not afraid to borrow models other goalies use.
"I want them to send me a [Rick] DiPietro or a [Marty] Turco stick," Johnson said. "Whatever they're using, it's fantastic."
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton signed goaltender Alexander Pechurskiy to an American Hockey League tryout contract. Goaltender Brad Thiessen has a leg injury. Wheeling's Patrick Killeen was called up last weekend but was returned to participate in the ECHL All-Star Game.
Pechurskiy faced a similar situation last January, when the Penguins needed him in a pinch. With Fleury and Johnson hurt and the team in Vancouver, Pechurskiy was summoned on an amateur tryout contract from his Tri-City junior club in the Western Hockey League.
When John Curry faltered, Pechurskiy got into his first -- and, so far, only -- NHL game. He made 12 saves in relief and was named the No. 3 star in a 6-2 loss to the Canucks.
This season, Pechurskiy, a fifth-round pick in the 2008 draft, is 10-8-0 with a 2.74 goals-against average and a .898 save percentage with Mississippi of the Central Hockey League. Thiessen had to pull out of the AHL All-Star Game. He will be replaced by Curry, who is 16-7-0 with a 2.47 goals-against average and a .904 save percentage with Wilkes-Barre.
Shelly Anderson: firstname.lastname@example.org . First Published January 26, 2011 5:00 AM