Back at it, and some belated thanks.


Greetings, dear readers, from Consol Energy Center, where C EVGENI MALKINhas returned to practice. He has skated during the session on a fourth-line slot. He hasn’t played since Jan. 18, because of a sore left knee and a sinus infection. C SIDNEY CROSBY (concussion) is not practicing. He is expected to miss a 10th straight game Tuesday at the New York Rangers.

= A personal note: My colleague Josh Yohe and I have tried to keep at “Chipped Ice” more this season than in campaigns past. We went dark last week, including nothing from the All-Star Game at Carolina. That was on me. My trip to Raleigh was scrapped because my grandmother, the late Jean May Oliverio, passed unexpectedly last Tuesday morning. Her death was the latest of three to hit my Mom’s family since July, and in between there have been some other big issue with which we’ve had to deal. Many readers reach out last week via social media or email to extend condolences. I appreciated every one of those kind thoughts, as did my family.

We are headed into trade-talk season with the arrival of February, and I promise that anything credible — at least two independent sources — I hear on that front will find its way into the blog between now and the deadline.

Again, to so many of yinz guys, thanks for keeping me and my family in mind last week. Just those few words meant a lot.