NHL Buzz: Malkin skates prior to Penguins practice

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Welcome to the NHL Buzz. Throughout the 2021-22 season, NHL.com will have you covered with the latest news.

 
Pittsburgh Penguins

Evgeni Malkin skated for the first time this season Monday.

The center wore a tracksuit on the ice about an hour before the Penguins practiced. He is expected to be out for at least two months of the season after having knee surgery June 4. 

“Anytime a player goes back on the ice, I think it’s significant,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “Obviously, he was in a tracksuit earlier today. It was his first step. He’s been working extremely hard off the ice, going through the rehab process, but certainly, that’s a significant step for him.”

Pittsburgh will be without first-line center Sidney Crosby and right wing Bryan Rust against the Dallas Stars at PPG Paints Arena on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; ATTSN-PT, BSSW, ESPN+, NHL LIVE).

Crosby will miss his fourth straight game after having wrist surgery Sept. 8. He did not practice Monday. 

Rust is week to week with a lower-body injury sustained in a 5-4 overtime loss to the Florida Panthers on Thursday. He did not play in a 5-2 win against the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday. 

Jeff Carter is currently in Crosby’s spot on the first line with Danton Heinen replacing Rust at right wing. Jake Guentzel remains first-line left wing. 

Defenseman Mike Matheson returned to practice Monday and could play Tuesday after missing the first three games with a lower-body injury. Defenseman Mark Friedman sustained a lower-body injury in practice that Sullivan said is not expected to be significant. — Wes Crosby

 
Vancouver Canucks

Brock Boeser is expected to make his season debut for the Canucks against the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; SN360, MSG-B, ESPN+, NHL LIVE).

The forward has not played this season because of an undisclosed injury. He led Vancouver in goals (23) and points (49) in 56 games last season.

“He had a good practice,” coach Travis Green said Monday. “I’m not sure how he feels after it. We’ll talk to the trainers, but hopefully he’ll be out there tomorrow.”

Boeser, who said the injury was lingering during training camp, practiced on a line with Elias Pettersson and Alex Chiasson.

“Just taking everything a day at a time,” Boeser said. “First step today was to get through practice and I felt like I had a pretty good practice today so we’ll see what happens tomorrow.”

Defenseman Travis Hamonic was placed on a temporary leave of absence because of a personal matter.

“We have to worry about the guys that are here and coach the guys that are here,” Green said. “But also there’s the human side of it and we miss ‘Hammer’, we want him to be back playing but we also want to make sure he’s okay.” — Kevin Woodley

 
Montreal Canadiens

Mike Hoffman is expected to make his debut for the Canadiens against the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; RDS, TSN2, NBCSCA, ESPN+, NHL LIVE).

“Practice was good today, good to be back with the guys, get out there,” Hoffman said Monday. “Body feels good and I think I should be good to go if coach says so.” 

The forward, who signed a three-year contract, was injured during the offseason prior to arriving in Montreal and did not participate in training camp.

Hoffman skated on the third line with Adam Brooks and Brendan Gallagher; Brooks was taking the spot of center Jake Evans, who had a therapy day.

“He’s a team guy and I think he proved it too,” coach Dominique Ducharme said. “Like if you go back in Ottawa, they went to the conference final (2017) and he was playing with (Jean-Gabriel) Pageau and quite often against the best line on the other side. So he’s able to play. He’s a hockey player, he can play 5-on-5, and for sure he’s going to help us on the power play.” — Sean Farrell

 
Winnipeg Jets

Blake Wheeler was placed in NHL COVID-19 protocol Monday.

The Jets forward has one assist in two games this season.

Winnipeg plays at the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET; BSN, BSWI, TSN3, ESPN+, NHL LIVE).

 

New York Rangers

Kaapo Kakko was placed on injured reserve Sunday with an upper-body injury. 

Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said he expects the forward to miss at least the remainder of a four-game road trip that continues at the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday (7 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN, TVAS, MSG, NHL LIVE). They visit the Nashville Predators on Thursday and Ottawa Senators on Saturday to conclude the trip.

The Rangers are home for two games next week, hosting the Calgary Flames on Oct. 25 and Columbus Blue Jackets on Oct. 29.

Kakko played 6:16 before his last shift ended with 36 seconds left in the first period of a 3-1 win at the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday. He was hit by Canadiens defenseman Alexander Romanov at 13:49 of the first and hit Romanov seven seconds later.

Ryan Strome (NHL COVID-19 protocol-related absence) remains out.

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