Schultz Practices With Contact, Malkin Absent Again

Penguins defenseman will not play Tuesday

Josh Rowntree
February 04, 2019 - 1:42 pm
Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Justin Schultz (4) handles the puck against the Washington Capitals during the first period in game six of the second round of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PPG PAINT.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan) - Justin Schultz was able, for the first time since breaking his left leg just four games into the season, to practice with contact and with the rest of his Pittsburgh teammates on Monday.

The versatile Penguins defenseman is slightly ahead of schedule from the injury ands subsequent surgery, which projected him to miss at least four months. 

Despite the positive news, Schultz will not play in Tuesday’s game against Carolina at PPG Paints Arena. 

“I missed a lot of time, so it’s going to take more than one full-contact practice,” Schultz said. “But we’re moving in a good direction.

“It was a good step today. Everything felt fine and we’ll see how it feels tomorrow morning.”

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan confirmed that Schultz can be labeled day-to-day at this point. 

“He’s getting close,” Sullivan said “He looked strong, to me, out there today. We got him involved in the power play. I think he’s anxious to play here, so we’ll see how he responds today and we’ll make decisions accordingly.”

Schultz’s biggest obstacle, along with just the physical conditioning, will be getting over what was a gruesome injury. 

“I think it’s just more mental,” he said. “When you’re out for that long, with the type of injury that I had, there’s a little hurdle you have to get over in your head and be comfortable out there. I thought I was today. Still not completely there, but it’s getting there and it’s positive.”

His teammates are more than ready to welcome him back, as Schultz’s puck-handling abilities are among the best on the team’s defensive corps. 

“I think all of our (defenseman) do a pretty good job of skating and moving the puck,” Sidney Crosby said. “But that’s Schultz’s strength. And a right-hand shot, which is good, too. It’s not always east for guys to play their off-side, so I think that’s nice to have. 

“It’s good to see that he’s progressing. He’s been skating for a bit now, but it’s good to see him in a regular jersey and doing some normal drills, which means things are going well.”

Notes:

Evgeni Malkin did not participate in Monday’s practice. Mike Sullivan confirmed that Malkin, who has missed the last two games with an upper body injury, skated on his own before Monday’s practice, saying he is “making progress.”

Hear all of what Mike Sullivan had to say below.

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