The Pittsburgh Penguins will definitely be in the NHL’s Stanley Cup playoffs this season, but they’ve still been struggling slightly of late. The club received more bad news when they learned star center Evgeni Malkin of Russia will be sidelined for 2-3 weeks due to an injury.

Malkin has a foot problem which will keep him out of action for the remainder of the regular season and he could possibly miss the start of the postseason.

Dan Bylsma, the Penguins head coach, said Malkin injured his foot on the first shift of the game against the St. Louis Blues on March 23. According to Bylsma, Malkin won’t need to undergo surgery to repair the damage.

Malkin, who has won the NHL’s Hart, Conn Smythe and Art Ross Trophies in the past as the most valuable player, most valuable player in the playoffs and league’s leading scorer, was replaced on the Penguins second line by center Brandon Sutter.

Sutter played with wingers James Neal and Jussi Jokinen in the Penguins 3-2 loss to Phoenix on March 25. Malkin was playing some of his best hockey of the 2013-14 season when he was injured, as he was coming off of a two-goal and two-assist game against the Tampa Bay Lightning on March 22.

Bylsma said it’s obviously disappointing to lose one of the team’s best players heading into the playoffs and he hopes Malkin can pick up where he left off when he returns to action.

At the time of the injury, Malkin had 23 goals and 49 assists for 72 points and was a plus 10 in 60 games. The team will have to rearrange their top power play unit with Malkin on the shelf.

Pittsburgh forward Jussi Jokinen said the team will miss Malkin since it will be hard to replace his work ethic, creativity, and scoring prowess. He claimed it’s a huge blow for the club, but they’re used to having star players sidelined with injuries this season, so they’ll just have to play that much harder to win games.

Malkin, a 27-year-old native of Magnitogorsk, Russia, was drafted out of his homeland with the second overall pick in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. He continued to play in Russia and made his debut with the Penguins in the 2006-07 season.

The club knew it had a special player as Malkin racked up 32 goals and 52 assists for 85 points in 78 games as an NHL rookie. His best season came in 2011-12 when he won the league’s scoring race with 109 points on 50 goals and 59 assists.

Malkin has played in a total of 518 regular-season NHL games up to the time of his injury and has scored 632 points on 250 goals and 392 assists. He’s appeared in 83 career playoff games and has scored 36 goals and 61 assists for 97 points in them.

Malkin has also played for Russia at several international events such as the World Junior Championships and the Winter Olympic Games.


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