NEW YORK – Evgeni Malkin is already picking up the scoring slack created by Sidney Crosby’s absence. Now he’ll cover for his Pittsburgh Penguins teammate at the NHL all-star game, too.
Malkin was one of five players chosen Tuesday as all-star replacements for this weekend’s festivities in Atlanta. The announcement came hours after the Penguins said Crosby – the league’s reigning MVP and scoring champion – will be out six-to-eight weeks with a high ankle sprain.
In 48 games, Malkin has a team-high 26 goals, and 56 points. He had two goals and an assist in Pittsburgh’s 6-5 shootout loss to Washington on Monday night.
The Penguins are 0-1-1 since Crosby was injured last Friday.
Joining Malkin on the Eastern Conference squad is Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas, a surprise replacement for starter Martin Brodeur of the New Jersey Devils. Brodeur, who made 34 saves in Sunday’s win over Toronto, must miss the game because of a family obligation that has come up.
His withdrawal means neither goalie voted into the starting lineup will play. Western Conference starter Roberto Luongo of the Vancouver Canucks pulled out of the game to be with his pregnant wife in Florida.
Defenceman Scott Niedermayer and forward Corey Perry from the Stanley Cup-champion Anaheim Ducks were also selected to the West team, joining teammates Chris Pronger and Ryan Getzlaf.
The Ducks have a league-high four players in the game. The Detroit Red Wings are down to three players after starting forward Henrik Zetterberg withdrew, along with Colorado Avalanche forward Paul Stastny and Dallas Stars defenceman Sergei Zubov.
Stars forward Mike Ribeiro was also selected as a replacement.
Niedermayer, the 34-year-old MVP of last season’s playoffs, has played only 17 games since rejoining the Ducks in December after contemplating retirement. The five-time all-star has two goals and nine assists.
Zubov is out with a foot injury, and Stastny is sidelined after having his appendix removed last week.
Malkin, Perry, Ribeiro and Thomas will be making their first all-star appearances.