Injuries and suspensions continue to pile up for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
It was announced on Wednesday that All-Star center Evgeni Malkin will have knee surgery, ending his season.
Malkin is a key contributor to the Penguins offence, scoring 37 points in 43 games this year. He was one of the stars of the Penguins' Stanley Cup Finals appearances in 2008 and 2009. The Penguins won the Cup in 2009.
The Penguins also will be without the services of Matt Cooke for four games. Cooke will serve a suspension for a charging incident during Tuesday's loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets. This is not the first time Cooke has been suspended for rough play. He is beginning to get a reputation around the league as a dirty player.
Left-winger Chris Kunitz, who has not played since a Feb. 6 loss to the Washington Capitals, is listed as day-to-day with a lower body injury. Kunitz has 36 points in 52 games this year.
The icing on this recent injury cake is that the Penguins' best player, Sidney Crosby, has not been on the ice in more than a month. He was diagnosed with concussion symptoms from a hit he took in a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Jan. 5.
In addition to these fine players, several other players have spent time on the injury report this season, including Jordan Stall, Tyler Kennedy, Pascal Dupuis, Alex Goligoski and Brooks Orpik.
Every team has injuries during the season, but this is getting ridiculous. One has to wonder if the Penguins can find a way to make the playoffs without players like Kunitz and Crosby in the lineup.
The Penguins currently stand fourth in the Eastern Conference. They would host the Washington Capitals in the first round of the playoffs if the standings remain as they are.
That seems pretty unlikely, however, unless they can get healthy. How they have only lost three of their last 10 games is a mystery to me. Those three losses were pretty unimpressive. The Capitals and Blue Jackets beat them by three goals each, and the New Jersey Devils won by two.
The wins haven't been of the highlight reel variety, either. Five of the past seven wins came on a single goal or in a shootout.
What this tells us is that the Penguins are treading water, playing well above their heads. They are capable of winning games by the skin of their teeth. They are also capable of getting blown out. A team can only do that for so long. Teams who are putting their best players on the ice will only lose for so long to guys who were playing in Wilkes-Barre to start the season.
This isn't an injury bug. This is an entire hive, and it could get very ugly for the Penguins and their fans if they don't find a proverbial can of Raid or Deep Woods Off.
Sidney, if you are reading this, please get well soon. Tell Cooke to stop trying to maim other players. We need him on the ice. Tell the rest of the Penguins to heal as quickly as possible. We are going to need our best players if we are going to make a deep run in April and May.