After having missed the last two playoff games for the Pittsburgh Penguins with an upper-body injury, veteran winger Patric Hornqvist is expected back for Game 6 today against the Philadelphia Flyers. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Jason Mackey writes that Hornqvist’s return is a major boost for a team as he is one of the team’s most unheralded players.
Mackey writes Hornqvist’s skill around the net, willingness to take a hit and his intensity both on and off the ice are keys the Penguins have missed the last two games. In fact, it’s that passion that’s so important to Pittsbugh.
“He brings so much passion to the rink every day and loves the game,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “He loves to be around his teammates. He loves to practice. He loves to play, and it’s contagious. I think he’s one of the more passionate guys that I’ve been around in all the years that I’ve been associated with this league. That’s one of the things that we love about him.”
Whether it’s his attitude or scoring prowess, he has made a difference to the team, according to Mackey. When he’s on the ice, the Penguins have a .640 points percentage as opposed to a .559 when he’s not playing.
- While Hornqvist is expected to play Sunday, the Pittsburgh Penguins aren’t as sure about the status of center Evgeni Malkin, according to Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Sam Werner and Mackey. Malkin was the only player to miss Saturday’s practice after injuring his leg in the first period of Friday’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers when he got collided with Jori Lehtera and fell awkwardly against the boards. While he left after that play, he returned for the second period. While missing practice isn’t that big of a deal, Sullivan didn’t tell the media he was taking a maintenance day, suggesting his injury could be more serious than originally thought. He is a game-time decision.
- Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston writes that Toronto Maple Leafs forward Leo Komarov is at 85 percent and isn’t yet ready to play for Monday’s Game 6 against the Boston Bruins. The 31-year-old has only played in two games this series with a lower-body injury. He has no points and a minus-1 rating in those two games.
- While it’s still a series away, the Winnipeg Jets Nikolaj Ehlers skated with a non-contact jersey Sunday. Head coach Paul Maurice said Ehlers wasn’t feeling quite right and missed Game 5 because of that, although the coach didn’t clarify if it was an injury or illness, according to Ken Wiebe of the Winnipeg Sun. Ehlers and the Jets await the winner between Nashville and Colorado in the second round of the playoffs.