Evgeni Malkin said there is a "50/50 chance" he plays in the Pittsburgh Penguins' season opener against the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday, Jenn Menendez and Seth Rorabaugh of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette report.
Malkin practiced for the first time on Tuesday after missing all of preseason with an undisclosed injury. In September, the team announced Malkin and Sidney Crosby would miss the start of training camp with injuries. Crosby returned in time to play in the team's preseason finale.
Malkin was non-committal about his availability for Thursday's game.
“I can’t say right now because it’s my first practice with team, 50-50 [chance]. You know what I mean? If I feel [I’m in] great shape, if not maybe second game,” Malkin said.
The Post-Gazette reports coach Mike Johnston might shift Malkin from center to right wing as he makes his return. Johnston said the change would be temporary and he liked what he saw from Malkin during Tuesday's practice.
“He stayed the whole practice, as you just saw, that was really encouraging. I thought he looked pretty good for a guy who hasn’t been on the ice for a month. I thought he handled practice really well. … I’m talking about conditioning and pace and you know just moving up to speed when the others players are going at full speed.”
Malkin, who has played his entire eight-year career in Pittsburgh, had 23 goals and 49 assists last season.
After Thursday's season opener, the Penguins play the Toronto Maple Leafs on the road on Saturday.
- Paul Palladino