The Pittsburgh Penguins have been here before. After dealing with Sidney Crosby and his history of concussions, reigning MVP Evgeni Malkin now has a concussion of his own.
Malkin lost his footing and violently slammed into the end boards during the Penguins’ game with the Florida Panthers on Friday night. Most frightening about the collision was the jarring whiplash he suffered after he made contact with the boards.
Like the situation with Crosby, the Penguins must be patient with Malkin.
First and foremost is the long-term health of one of their cornerstones, who is only 26 years old. Malkin has already won a Stanley Cup, Art Ross Trophy, Hart Trophy, Calder Trophy and Conn Smythe Trophy and is in the midst of his prime.
Another reason to be patient with Malkin is where the Penguins sit in the standings. Pittsburgh comfortably sits one point out of first in the Eastern Conference behind the upstart Montreal Canadiens. The Penguins have been inconsistent this season, yet still sit atop the Atlantic Division, so there is no rush to get Malkin back.
Crosby currently ranks second in scoring in the league and will now play with sniper James Neal while Malkin is sidelined. Veterans Chris Kunitz, Pascal Dupuis, Tyler Kennedy and Brandon Sutter will also help shoulder the load without Malkin.
His absence will also allow for more ice time for youngsters like Beau Bennett, Dustin Jeffrey and Joe Vitale. All three have shown flashes of talent during their brief careers, so it will be a huge opportunity for the youngsters to chip in and make an impact.
However, the main thing is ensuring that Malkin is ready for the playoffs. The Penguins are one of the favorites to hoist the Stanley Cup, so rushing him back to a grueling regular season might not be the best idea. As long as the Penguins stay at or near the top of the standings while he is on the mend, there is absolutely no reason to rush him back.
With so much on the line in regards to both the playoffs this season, as well as the big picture of Malkin’s health, the Penguins would be wise to give him as much time as he possibly needs. Even if he misses the remainder of the regular season, it would still be the right decision.
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