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Cullen: Notes on Malkin, Hartnell, Landeskog and more.

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Scott Cullen
2/25/2013 2:10:04 PM
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Evgeni Malkin gets rocked, Scott Hartnell returns, the Hurricanes thrust a junior defenceman into big minutes, the Blue Jackets have injury woes and more in Scott Cullen's notes.

PENGUIN HIT HARD
Penguins C Evgeni Malkin is out with a concussion after getting drilled into the boards by Panthers D Erik Gudbranson. With Malkin out of the lineup Sunday, the Penguins moved Sidney Crosby between Chris Kunitz and James Neal and Brandon Sutter between Matt Cooke and Pascal Dupuis.

Dustin Jeffery is the current beneficiary, though, as he played 13 minutes against Tampa Bay, mostly with rookie Beau Bennett and Tyler Kennedy.

GOTTA HAVE HART
One of the reasons given for the Flyers' struggles this season was the absence of LW Scott Hartnell, who suffered a broken foot in the third game of the season. Hartnell returned on the weekend, to his customary spot on the wing with Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek.

Hartnell's return comes none too soon, as the Flyers lost RW Matt Read last week for six weeks with torn rib cage muscles, and while Hartnell has yet to score in four games this season, he does have 18 shots on goal and put up a career-high 37 goals skating on Giroux's wing last season.

BIG MINUTES FOR MURPHY
Injuries have hit the Carolina Hurricanes' blueline hard, with Joni Pitkanen, Tim Gleason and Jamie McBain all on the shelf, the Hurricanes called up Ryan Murphy from the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League. In three games, Murphy averaged 21:51 of ice time per game, though that included a more reasonable 16:57 per game in his third game.

Gleason is reportedly close to returning, with Pitkanen about a week away, which would figure to put an end to Murphy's time as an emergency recall. While Murphy is a wonderful skater with good puck skills, he's probably not ready for full-time NHL duty if early shot differentials are any indication.

GROUNDED JETS
Winnipeg hasn't been able to play with a healthy defence corps all season and the challenges continued when Dustin Byfuglien left Sunday's win at New Jersey with an apparent ankle injury. Byfuglien is expected to play the Jets' next game, at the Rangers on Tuesday, but it's been a battle to get Winnipeg's best defence on the ice at any point this season.

The Jets are already missing Tobias Enstrom (shoulder) and Zach Redmond, who suffered a serious gash on his leg last week in practice, losses that more than offset the return of Zach Bogosian, who has only played six games as he recovered from off-season wrist surgery.

Grant Clitsome played a season-high 20:40 Sunday and Ron Hainsey continues to log big minutes on the blueline, 24:07 Sunday and a career-high 23:56 per game this season.

THE CROW FLIES
Chicago continued to roll in his absence, but they are even better with G Corey Crawford back in the lineup and he delivered a 28-dave shutout against Columbus Sunday in his first appearance in 12 days.

With C Dave Bolland out, the Blackhawks moved Marcus Kruger up to a spot between Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp, but Kruger is currently mired in a four-game pointless slump, despite playing more than 16 minutes in back-to-back games for the first time this season. Bolland's injury is considered to be day-to-day.

LAND, HO!
Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog returned to the Colorado lineup after missing four weeks with a concussion. In two games over the weekend, against Los Angeles and Anaheim, Landeskog played 39:37 and recorded one assist with two shots on goal -- not exactly ideal production, but getting him back together with Paul Stastny and David Jones gives the Avs a chance to generate more offence.

Landeskog's return bumped Aaron Palushaj to the third line with John Mitchell and Milan Hejduk.

RIPPED JACKETS
Blue Jackets D Jack Johnson is on IR with an upper body injury. With a minus-10 rating, one could argue that he shouldn't be playing 26-plus minutes every night for Columbus, but the Blue Jackets' defence isn't necessarily better off without him either. John Moore returned to the lineup and Tim Erixon played a season-high 18:50 against Chicago with Johnson out.

Up front, Columbus is also missing Artem Anisimov and Brandon Dubinsky -- two cornerstones of the off-season deal for Rick Nash. Nick Drazenovic and Ryan Johansen (called up from the AHL, where he had three goals and three assists in six games since being sent down) moved into top nine roles down the middle with Anisimov and Dubinsky out.

COYOTE UGLY
With both C Martin Hanzal and RW Radim Vrbata out, the Coyotes have been forced to shuffle lines. One beneficiary has been C Matthew Lombardi, who has played more than 17 minutes in each of the last two games, his first games since spending nearly a month on injured reserve. Lombardi has four points in six games this season and may be able to handle a bigger offensive role, if needed.

ST. LOUIS ROOKIE ROCKED
Blues rookie RW Vladimir Tarasenko suffered a concussion when he was leveled by Avalanche C Mark Olver, creating an opportunity for Blues RW Matt D'Agostini, who has played sporadically this season, but saw significant time with Patrik Berglund and Vladimir Sobotka against Columbus Saturday.

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.

Evgeni Malkin (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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