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Penguins Report: Malkin Takes A Rest

Monday, 03.16.2009 / 11:19 AM / Penguins Report
By Sam Kasan
*Updated 2:10 p.m. EST

Penguins center Evgeni Malkin was absent from the team's Monday afternoon practice due to an illness. Malkin has been playing through the illness and was given a day to rest.

“The last few days he hasn’t been feeling great but that’s not different from other times of the year when guys get sick,” interim head coach Dan Bylsma said. “It was just a situation where it was best to see the doctor and get it taken care of, rule things out and get some rest.”

Bylsma said the Penguins are expecting Malkin to play against the Atlanta Thrashers at Mellon Arena Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m.

“That’s what we’re planning on,” he said.


> Meanwhile, defenseman Philippe Boucher returned to practice for the first time in nearly two months after having surgery on his left foot.

“It’s going really well,” he said of his recovery. “This is what we thought. I need a few more practices. I haven’t talked to anybody about a date or a game or things like that. I have to play good in practice, feel good and go from there.”

“Every day has been a test,” Bylsma said. “The last two days were a test to see if he could be back in practice with us (Monday). He continues to pass it. You have to wake up in the morning and see where the pain is at and where his situation is at. Things are progressing well. If he continues to go this way it will be sooner rather than later that he’ll be healthy.”

     
 

 
     
Boucher has skated on his own over the past few days but Monday was his first practice with his teammates. During practice, Boucher worked on skating, passing and situation drills. And so far, so good.

“Every step it has responded well,” Boucher said. “I’m starting to work out the skating on my own, the start to stop with the team, it’s all gone well. (Monday) was a big step being around guys, passing, playing more game-like situations.”

Boucher had surgery in early February and has pushed his rehab hard with the playoffs looming.

“If this was November we might be a little more careful, not that we’re not being careful,” Boucher said. “It’s going to take me a little more time. I can skate, I can practice. Right now that’s what we’re going to do and the next step is to figure out how much I can take in practice and see what I can do after that.”


> It appeared that Chris Kunitz tallied his first hat trick as a Pittsburgh Penguin in the team’s 6-4 victory over the Boston Bruins Sunday afternoon.

Kunitz scored a goal in the first period and was initially credited with back-to-back goals 18 seconds apart to open the third period. The Mellon Arena crowd showed its appreciation by littering the ice with hats. But after the game his “second” goal was later changed and credited to Sergei Gonchar.

“I feel bad for all those hats on the ice but I’m sure they’re going to a good cause,” Kunitz joked after the team’s Monday practice.

The fans weren’t the only ones getting swept up in the hat trick drama.

“I threw my hat on the ice for the hat trick,” goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury said.

So, now that the hat trick was taken away from Kunitz, do they give the hats back?

“I actually picked up a nice blue one and kept it after the game,” Bylsma joked. “So I don’t want to give them back.”


> He said it: Bylsma on his first month behind the bench and steering the club to a 10-1-3 record:

“I can’t imagine having a better record in that month. The biggest thing is the guys have identified how we need to play, how we want to play and how we can play as a team. We’re still working on that process every night and perfecting that. The identity and how we’re going to do that is there. Every period hasn’t been great but we’ve been getting better and better. You can see that when we play that way we can play with anybody in the league. We can be a dangerous team and that’s what we need to keep working on.”



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