When the reduced testing procedures were announced, there was always a chance that many players would end up in the COVID protocols when the All-Star break ended. There would be one last round of tests for everyone as they rejoined their respective clubs before asymptomatic testing stops. After Jack Hughes and Jesperi Kotkaniemi both entered the protocol yesterday, another Metropolitan center has joined them. Evgeni Malkin is now in the COVID protocol and unavailable for the Pittsburgh Penguins, who have recalled Valtteri Puustinen and Michael Chaput in response.
Losing Malkin is a tough blow for the Penguins as they return and get set for a three-game road trip to start the unofficial second half. Pittsburgh is set to travel to Boston to take on the Bruins tomorrow, before heading to Ottawa and New Jersey. There’s a chance that Malkin could return for that Sunday game against the Devils, though with it being an afternoon tilt the timing may be difficult.
The 35-year-old has been excellent since returning from injury, scoring 13 points in 12 games including at least one in each of his last nine. Already missing the likes of Teddy Blueger and Jason Zucker, the Penguins’ depth is certainly being tested.
Puustinen, meanwhile, is receiving just his first recall to the NHL after signing an entry-level deal last spring. The 22-year-old forward was a star in Finland the past two seasons, and has 27 points in 40 games with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins this year. Undersized, he may be able to give the team a bit of an offensive punch in certain situations.
Always something with this guy
You got that right
Puustinen could have a real chance to stick around if he gets to play and shows something. The Pens need some scoring from somebody other than the usual suspects.
Has he covered every type of ailment? Checking the Covid box I believe has completed the cycle.
I kind of figure the ice version of turf toe is still out there. You know, something that will give him a break for a month