Penguins Notebook: If only Malkin's parents would stay longer
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During practice yesterday at Mellon Arena, Penguins coach Michel Therrien asked center Evgeni Malkin when his visiting parents were going home.
"The 26th," Malkin replied.
"Oh," Therrien said, a little disappointed it is so soon.
That means Natalia and Vladimir Malkin, who arrived two weeks ago, will watch their son today against Ottawa and tomorrow against San Jose before returning to Magnitogorsk, Russia.
There is no truth to any rumors that the Penguins have conspired to hide their passports, considering Evgeni Malkin has seven goals, nine assists for 16 points in seven games during his parents' visit.
"It's a good joke," Natalia Malkin said earlier this week with Russian power skating instructor Besa Tsintsadze acting as interpreter.
"He was doing good before, but not like this."
Malkin has climbed from a tie for 13th place in NHL scoring with 58 points at the end of January to the top of the heap with 82 points -- just three less than he had all last season as a rookie.
This month, he has a 10-game point streak and eight multiple-point games.
"Last season, he was OK, but not really 100 percent," said Vladimir Malkin, who, with his wife, gets up to watch Penguins games at 5 a.m. at home. "This season, he has been very exciting to see."
Natalia and Vladimir Malkin like their son's American nickname, Geno, better than Mal, which he was called in Russia.
"It fits," Natalia said. "Maybe we'll call him Geno, too."
They said they have made a lot of friends and enjoyed a lot of shopping during the trip. At a practice this week, they were loaded down with bags of Penguins merchandise to take back as gifts.
"We can't wait to come back again," Vladimir Malkin said.
Neither, one would think, can the Penguins.
Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, who marked five weeks since he got a right high ankle sprain, will not play today or tomorrow.
He worked out off the ice yesterday and is expected to skate this morning. He could be out another one to three weeks.
Fleury's recall due tomorrow
Therrien said Marc-Andre Fleury, who is scheduled to make his fifth start in goal for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton tonight, will be recalled tomorrow when his minor-league conditioning assignment ends, but he will spend that day traveling and won't be available for the Penguins' afternoon game against San Jose.
Therrien declined to say whether Fleury, Ty Conklin or Dany Sabourin might start the following game Tuesday against the Islanders in New York.
Fleury has not played for the Penguins since he left a Dec. 6 game at Calgary early because of a high ankle sprain. He is 3-1 with a 1.51 goals-against average and .951 save percentage with Wilkes-Barre.
Penguins winger Colby Armstrong's already crooked nose was swollen after practice and a cut had been glued shut after being hit twice there Thursday in Montreal. He said he didn't know if it is broken, but didn't expect any problems playing today. ... As they have been doing during Centre Avenue traffic restrictions, the Penguins will open the gates a half hour early today and tomorrow, at 1:30 p.m. ... Pierre McGuire, a former Penguins assistant and now a national color analyst, will join broadcasters Paul Steigerwald and Bob Errey after the first period and for the duration of the game today in the FSN Pittsburgh booth. ... If a game for first place in the Eastern Conference is not enough for Penguins fans, they can make it a hockey doubleheader. Robert Morris is taking time out from its college schedule to play host to the United States National Under-18 team at 7:35 p.m. today at the RMU Island Sports Center.
First Published February 23, 2008 12:00 am