Penguins Notebook: Malkin also battles sinus infection
The Penguins aren't expected to get any injured players back in time for their home game tonight against Carolina, but there have been some developments.
All-Star forward Evgeni Malkin missed the 2-0 loss Thursday at New Jersey because of recurring soreness in his left knee, but that is not the only reason he wasn't at practice Friday at Consol Energy Center.
"He does have a situation with his knee, a banged-up knee," coach Dan Bylsma said, "but he also has not been feeling well. He has a sinus infection.
"He's not feeling well with the sinus infection, and he's going to have to feel better before he can return to the ice."
All-Star center Sidney Crosby will miss his eighth game because of a concussion. He has not been given clearance for any workouts because he is not symptom-free, but Bylsma said Crosby continues to get better.
One player is on the mend. Winger Eric Godard has been given the OK to practice Monday with the Penguins, including contact. Bylsma said Godard will wear a protective face shield.
Godard, who has been skating before practice with conditioning coach Mike Kadar, got a broken left orbital bone Dec. 26 in a fight with Ottawa's Matt Carkner.
All-Star goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury was struck by a shot on the left wrist or forearm in practice. He took a break to have it checked out, but finished the workout.
He was expected to have it examined more closely, but mostly as a precaution.
Assuming no problem is found, Fleury is scheduled to start tonight. He is 20-5-2 in his past 27 starts.
Against New Jersey, the Penguins were shut out for just the third time this season, but it was the second time in the past six games.
It likely is no coincidence they fell against Minnesota, 4-0, Jan. 8, in the first game Crosby missed and were blanked by the Devils without Crosby and Malkin.
Crosby, with 66 points, had a tenuous hold on the NHL scoring lead before the Friday night games.
Malkin, a former league scoring champion, is third on the team with 37 points.
Their absence doesn't mean Bylsma is willing to excuse the lack of production.
"The expectations for our team and how we play, the standard for how we play, doesn't change," he said. "Obviously, we're not asking [rookie call-up] Dustin Jeffrey to be Sidney Crosby, but the way we play and the execution that we bring to the game ... is something we expect whoever's on the ice to be able to do, whether you're Dustin Jeffrey or Sidney Crosby."
Forward Mike Rupp is sporting a moustache this month because he lost a team shootout contest.
He had to pick up his teammates' sticks and gloves Wednesday after losing one of those contests. And he also lost one in January.
That prompted him to promise in a Tweet that he would not lose the competition -- one that often closes practice -- again this season.
Friday, he came close to breaking that promise.
He was one of the final three players, along with winger Matt Cooke and defenseman Ben Lovejoy, before he beat goaltender Brent Johnson to avoid again being the last player not to score.
He dropped to his knees and clenched his fists.
The Hurricanes were born as the Hartford Whalers in the 1979-80 season, and the franchise is one victory away from its 1,000th. Of the 999 wins, 456 have come since the club moved to Carolina in 1997.
In November, the team played its 1,000th game as the Hurricanes.
Penguins Hall of Fame center and owner Mario Lemieux watched practice from the stands. ... Carolina has been remarkably healthy. It lists no injuries and has lost just 34 man-games. The Penguins, in contrast, have lost 123 man-games.
First Published January 22, 2011 12:14 am