Evgeni Malkin 'Longer-Term' Injury is Absolutely Brutal Timing for Penguins

PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 14: Evgeni Malkin #71 of the Pittsburgh Penguins attempts a shot during the second period in Game Three of the Eastern Conference First Round against the New York Islanders during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at PPG PAINTS Arena on April 14, 2019 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
New York Islanders v Pittsburgh Penguins - Game Three | Justin Berl/Getty Images

Evgeni Malkin and the Pittsburgh Penguins were hoping for a sudden change of pace to start the 2019 campaign, as the notorious slow-starters cannot afford to fall too far behind the likes of the Caps, Rangers and Isles in a crowded Metropolitan Division.

Yet, just after Pittsburgh won their first game of the season, the Pens received a troubling injury update on Malkin, who is expected to miss significant time with a lower body injury.

Class NHL injury lingo aside, Pittsburgh was expected to rely heavily on their tier-2 star, especially after trading Phil Kessel to Arizona this offseason.

Without Malkin, the Pens' first line featuring Sidney Crosby must carry the load, being even more effective as the top-heavy Pens look to tread water without their Russian future Hall of Famer.

Sullivan always keeps injury information close to the vest, even by NHL coaching standards. Just last season Patrick Hornqvist missed just a week after his injury status sounded extraordinarily dire.

In just two games, Malkin recorded a goal and two points, although many pegged him as a likely breakout candidate for Pittsburgh. In the meantime, the Penguins must rely on their depth, although the organization isn't considered particularly deep at Malkin's position, especially with fellow center Nick Bjugstad out as well.