The vision of Evgeni Malkin in pain on the ice, then trying to skate off only to fall back onto the ice in pain was still fresh after the Penguins' win Saturday in Detroit. So to see him walking around at all in the Penguins' dressing room afterward, even with a slight limp, seemed like a minor miracle. On Monday morning, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported that Kris Letang (upper body) was headed to the IR. Malkin (lower body) wasn’t.
Even if that’s good news for Malkin, these latest injuries seem like piling on from the hockey gods. Pittsburgh played Saturday’s game without its four best defensemen, then lost another when Deryk Engelland got a match penalty following a hit to the head of Justin Abdelkader, who missed Sunday’s game against Tampa.
Engelland has an in-person hearing with the department of player safety, which means the Penguins are down their top five defensemen against Toronto on Monday night.
The amazing thing? The Penguins won on Saturday short-handed and Dan Bylsma’s completely decimated Penguins start this week with the most points in the Eastern Conference.
You could feel the pride coming from Craig Adams after the win over Detroit, because it was exactly the kind of gutsy win the Penguins seem to regularly find even as the most important players fall out of the lineup. He liked how some of the younger defensemen rose to the occasion.
“I thought tonight was an exceptional game for all those guys out there,” Adams said when we chatted afterward. “We were without five of our top six defensemen against a good team.”
It leads us to our first Next Question:
How are the Penguins doing it and can they maintain it?