It seems like just yesterday that we were all talking about Sidney Crosby’s recovery from a concussion.
For over a year, everyone clung to every medical update or press conference to get the most up to date information about the Penguins’ captain.
Reports swirled from him having a concussion to a broken neck and everything between.
Now, as fate would have it, the Penguins are dealing with another concussion being suffered by a star player.
Evgeni Malkin suffered one after a violent back-first collision into the endboards against the Florida Panthers on Friday.
Let’s get this out of the way first. There was nothing illegal about Erik Gudbranson’s hit, which led to Malkin crashing into the boards.
Thankfully, I haven’t seen any fans or people in the organization calling for Gudbranson’s head either. Maybe the Senators could learn a thing or two in the wake of the injury to Erik Karlsson.
The only reason the Senators are up in arms over that injury is because Matt Cooke was involved. Period. If it were Pascal Dupuis, Joe Vitale, etc. we wouldn’t even be talking about this.
Anyway, the Root Sports guys tried to make a case that Gudbranson could have been called for boarding by stretching the definition of the rule during last night’s win over the Lightning.
I’m sorry, but I’m not buying it.
Malkin was in a vulnerable position and the injury sustained is obviously unfortunate.
However, I’m really hoping there isn’t a circus looking for updates every day like there was with Crosby.
Head coach Dan Bylsma confirmed last night that Malkin has been diagnosed with a concussion. He also suffered some short-term memory loss, but that is returning. He will not join the Penguins on their upcoming three-game road trip as well.
Can we just leave it at that? Please?
Obviously, I want Malkin back on the ice as much as anyone else. However, the Penguins aren’t going to rush him back in the lineup because we want to see him play.
He’ll come back when he’s ready. It’s as simple as that.
If anything, you would hope the Penguins medical staff learned some things from the Crosby situation and are even better prepared to treat Malkin.
Speaking of Crosby, it will be up to him to shoulder the load with Malkin out of the lineup. Granted, Crosby was already tearing up the league before Malkin went down.
However, last night against the Lightning, Crosby was at another level. He had that look about him that he was not going to be stopped.
His goal 1:16 into the game was rather impressive with how he opened up his stance to receive the puck and then sniped it over Anders Lindback. Sure, Lindback wasn’t fully square to the shot, but it likely wouldn’t have mattered.
Crosby’s three points last night kept him just one back of Steven Stamkos in the NHL’s scoring race.
One potentially positive to come out of Malkin’s injury is seeing James Neal on Crosby’s wing. As you’ll recall, Neal was initially intended to be Crosby’s winger when he was acquired from the Stars.
However, with Crosby out of the lineup for an extended period of time, Neal and Malkin were put together and have done quite well.
Some wondered if Crosby and Neal would develop chemistry quickly as well and I think two goals from that line in the first 10 minutes last night answered that question with a resounding “yes.”
Crosby set Neal up a couple of times throughout the game, but the puck just wouldn’t go in for one reason or another. Regardless, it was an encouraging sign.
Also encouraging was seeing Beau Bennett finally get his first NHL goal. How many chances has he had in his first few games that just missed?
Not to mention, the goal he scored was monumental in the game.
With the Penguins clinging to a 3-2 lead, Tampa Bay got into a little bit of penalty trouble. As a result, the Penguins went on an extended 5-on-3 power play.
Crosby took control of the puck in the right face off circle, fed Bennett with a beautiful saucer pass and he ripped the one-timer by Mathieu Garon.
That sequence came just seconds after Bennett couldn’t capitalize on a rebound off the boards to the side of the net. To his credit, the puck was about a foot off the ice and bouncing, making it a very difficult play.
Now that he’s worked hard to tie Eric Tangradi on the Penugins’ all-time scoring list, I’m sure it won’t take him long to move ahead of the recently-traded winger.
The Penguins start their three-game road trip tomorrow night against the Florida Panthers.
Get well soon Geno.
By the way, can we get rid of the blue jerseys now?
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