Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins is “50-50” to play Thursday.
Penguins star center Evgeni Malkin said there is a ’50-50′ chance that he will be able to play in Pittsburgh’s regular season opener against Anaheim, yet added that the chances get better with time.
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Evgeni Malkin was limited to just 60 games last season, yet still recorded 23 goals and 49 assists. He was held back for most of training camp with what the team calls an undisclosed issue, but Tuesday marked the first time he was able to skate alongside his teammates.
He was able to complete the hour-long practice and skated with Sidney Crosby as they worked on a two-on-two drill against a pair of defensemen.
“It feels great,” said Evgeni Malkin. “I need to get in better shape, but I’m glad to be back.”
The quicker Evgeni Malkin is able to skate consistently, the more likely new Pens coach Mike Johnston will consider experimenting with ways to enhance the scoring punch of Evgeni Malkin, who enters the 2014-15 season with 632 career points in 518 games. One option could have Evgeni Malkin at right wing on a line that would include Brandon Sutter and Pascal Dupuis.
Evgeni Malkin will have also adjust to life without left wing James Neal, who was traded from Pittsburgh to Nashville in a draft day move that will force the Pens to replace the 61 points Neal scored in 59 games last season.
Promising young forward Beau Bennett has the potential to fill the void created by the loss of Neal, but the 22-year-old will be out at least another five weeks with a leg injury. Bennett scored seven points in 21 games last season.
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