Malkin practices but return from knee injury uncertain

PITTSBURGH (AP) Evgeni Malkin's lower-body injury is healing. So too, are the 2012 MVP's feelings about being left off the NHL's 100 Greatest Players list unveiled at the All-Star game last month in conjunction with the league's centennial season.

Malkin joked on Monday he's ''trying to forget'' being passed over for a list that included teammate Sidney Crosby as well as Pittsburgh Penguins owner Mario Lemieux.

''I'm proud what team say, what Mario say, proud of family, fans and my friends they support me,'' Malkin said. ''I did my best. What I can do is nothing. All 100 players is legend. They deserve to be (on the) list.''

Malkin's teammates felt the three-time All-Star and two-time Stanley Cup champion should have made the cut, too. The 30-year-old Russian downplayed any anger over the snub in typically self-deprecating fashion.

''Maybe I win a couple more trophies, couple more Stanley Cups,'' Malkin said. ''Next year 101(st) year, maybe they send me great black jacket and I will be 101.''

The Penguins will certainly be in the mix to repeat this spring and Malkin's presence at practice on Monday is a sign his stay on the injured reserve may be nearing an end. Malkin hasn't played since getting hurt in a shutout loss to St. Louis on Jan. 24. He wore a non-contact jersey while skating for an hour with his teammates before doing some individual work.

''I want to be back soon,'' said Malkin, who will not play Tuesday against Calgary. ''But have to be careful. It's not ready but day by day.''

Malkin is second on the team in goals (22) and points (54), trailing only Crosby. The Penguins are 3-1 during Malkin's absence. Pittsburgh is tied for the third best record in the NHL, but that's only good enough for second in the Metropolitan Division behind streaking Washington.

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan is encouraged by Malkin's progress but said the team needs to see how Malkin holds up in a full-contact workout before he can be cleared.

''He told me he felt really strong,'' Sullivan said.

The Penguins have been forced to scramble of late due to a series of injuries. Forward Carl Hagelin did not practice on Monday after entering the league's concussion protocol following a hit to the head from St. Louis forward Alexander Steen in a 4-1 victory on Saturday night.

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