Evgeni Malkin will join Sidney Crosby on Metropolitan Division All-Star team
January 10, 2017 3:21 PM
Evgeni Malkin will join Sidney Crosby as the Penguins’ representatives at the 2017 All-Star Game, the NHL announced today.
By Dave Molinari / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Justin Schultz is having one of the finest seasons of any NHL defenseman but won’t get to prove it in the All-Star Game.
The only Penguins player added to the Metropolitan Division squad Tuesday for the game in Los Angeles Jan. 29 was center Evgeni Malkin.
He joins teammate Sidney Crosby, who was voted captain of that squad in fan balloting.
Schultz enters the Penguins’ game at 8:08 p.m. Wednesday in Washington with seven goals and 18 assists in 39 games, including seven goals and 13 assists in his past 17 games.
He also was tied with Minnesota defenseman Ryan Suter for the league’s best plus-minus rating [plus-24] before Tuesday night’s games.
Schultz’s reaction to being left off the team isn’t known because he departed the locker room at Cranberry before the roster was announced, but Malkin suggested that he might have other opportunities in the future.
“Maybe next year, [if] he plays at the same level,” Malkin said. “Probably next year.”
All eight teams in the division are required to have at least one player on the 11-member squad, the final 10 of which were chosen by the NHL’s Hockey Operations department.
Here is the Metropolitan lineup:
Forwards – Taylor Hall [New Jersey], Alex Ovechkin [Washington], Wayne Simmonds [Philadelphia], John Tavares [New York Islanders], Crosby and Malkin.
Defensemen – Justin Faulk [Carolina], Seth Jones [Columbus] and Ryan McDonagh [New York Rangers].
Goalies – Sergei Bobrovsky [Columbus] and Braden Holtby [Washington].
For the second year, the game will be a 3-on-3 format pitting divisions against each other in a four-team tournament.
Illness and injuries
Add Kris Letang to the list of Penguins players felled by a flu-like ailment.
He and fellow defenseman Chad Ruhwedel did not practice Tuesday because of illness, although coach Mike Sullivan did not rule Letang out of the Capitals game.
“We’re hopeful he’s going to be OK,” Sullivan said. “But we’ll watch him … and see how it goes. But obviously, he didn’t feel well enough to skate.”
Not all of the medical news Tuesday was negative for the Penguins.
Defenseman Trevor Daley returned to practice after missing Monday because of illness, and goalie Matt Murray, who sat out the past two games because of an unspecified injury, practiced for the second day in a row and seemed encouraged by how he is progressing.
“It responded really well [to going through a practice Monday],” Murray said. “Pushed it pretty hard again today.
“That was the best skate I’ve had so far, the best I’ve felt so far. Again, we probably won’t have to make a decision until tomorrow, but get another morning skate under my belt tomorrow morning and go from there.”
Tall task in goal
Washington is the NHL’s most stingy defensive team, allowing an average of just two goals per game.
That reflects not only the Capitals’ commitment to playing well in their own end, but also the play of Holtby.
He has allowed just one goal in his past three starts and had a shutout streak of 169 minutes, 12 seconds before being beaten during a 4-1 victory Monday in Montreal.
“He’s like [Montreal’s Carey] Price, in that he’s very calm and pucks hit him in the chest,” Penguins center Nick Bonino said. “He’s always well-positioned.
“You have to make passes. You have to make him move. You have to screen him a little bit.”
The Penguins actually have been able to do those things more often than most when facing Holtby. His career record against them is 6-7-2, with a 2.59 goals-against average and .918 save percentage.
Florida center Vincent Trocheck, an Upper St. Clair native, was named to the Atlantic Division all-star team. … The start time of the Penguins’ March 26 game against Philadelphia at PPG Paints Arena has been pushed back to 7:08 p.m.
Dave Molinari: Dmolinari@Post-Gazette.com and Twitter @MolinariPG
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