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Islanders: Evgeni Malkin out for Penguins, is it an advantage?

Nov 21, 2019; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders defenseman Ryan Pulock (6) and Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (71) battle for position during the third period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 21, 2019; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders defenseman Ryan Pulock (6) and Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (71) battle for position during the third period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports
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At puck drop, we found out that the Pittsburgh Penguins would be without star center Evgeni Malkin. After picking up an injury in the Pens season finally, Malkin was already a doubt to play today. Now it’s confirmed. So, is his absence an advantage for the New York Islanders?

On paper it sure it. Over his career, Malkin has 169 points n 166 career playoffs games. Not having a point-per-game player skating against you is without a question an advantage. But there’s more to it than that.

New York Islanders face Malkin-less Pittsburgh Penguins

We’ll see if Malkin is out long-term. It was believed that the injury wouldn’t impact his ability to play in the postseason, but he’ll at least miss Game 1.

This isn’t the first time the Penguins have been without Malkin’s services this year. Malkin has played just33 of the team’s 56 games this year, and look that hasn’t been an issue for them.

Heck, the Penguins don’t seem to be phased by any injury. They just don’t lose a step even when their stars are out. Stepping in to play on the second line is Jeff Carter who has nine goals in the 14 games since he was acquired at the trade deadline.

So it’s not as if the Penguins are tossing some sort of unknown out there in Malkin’s spot.

We also can’t forget that having Malkin out there could have actually been a sort of advantage for the Islanders. If there’s one thing we know about Malkin is that he runs hot. Getting under his skin isn’t necessarily difficult.

Over his 166 games, Malkin has accumulated 238 penalty minutes. The last time the Islanders and Penguins met Malkin had six penalty minutes across the four-game sweep. It might not seem like it, but the Islanders have a decent power play, specifically against the Penguins.

Over their eight-game series against the Pens this year, the Isles are 35% effective when a man up. Being able to generate a few PP opportunities at the expense of Malkin could have been a big helper for the underdog Islanders in this series.

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