Can he get any better? Traditionally Evgeni Malkin is at his best when his parents arrive and he has Mama Malkin’s borscht. Rumor has it they are planning on coming soon – so fair warning to the rest of the NHL.
As of Sunday’s afternoon game, Malkin is the point leader with 58 points despite missing seven games. He has 8 game winning goals on his way to beat Jagr’s team record of 12. And asked about all these highlight reel goals/assists he says he’s just lucky!
Geno always seems to be in someone’s shadow and perhaps he likes it that way or that is his motivation. He was the 2nd overall pick behind Alex Ovechkin in 2004. Due to the international transfer dispute, he wasn’t on the Pens roster until 2006-07 season. He set a record as the first player to score a goal in his first six games. From there he won the award for rookie of the year. But sometimes all that seems to be forgotten.
Ever notice that even when Crosby is in the line-up Geno is the last one to enter the ice? It seems that is one of the few times he pulls rank. (Crosby wasn’t drafted until 2005) – So is this actually Malkin’s team? It seems that Geno has grown inside and out as he has matured and has been able to communicate with teammates, coaches, the press, and even on twitter! He can be quite the jokester without the brash personality of that other Russian.
Penguins had Mario and Jagr, now, Sidney and Geno. As pointed out by a Red Wings fan/friend (yes they can exist) unlike Jagr, who was given the keys to lead but couldn’t or wouldn’t work to get to that point, Geno is just getting started. If he stays healthy – and we know a thing or two about that, he could win the oldest and most prestigious individual award in hockey, the “player judged most valuable to his team” the Hart Trophy, as well as the Art Ross Trophy for most points.
We know about Crosby’s work ethic and his focus on improvements, yet have you noticed Malkin is winning more face-off? And it was not that long ago, that Geno wasn’t in the first 3 in a shoot out and now he is clutch. (Ok so Crosby and Letang were out, so perhaps coach had no other options, but still!!)
He still may take the occasional bone headed penalty, but he usually uses his head and not his fists even though he is being the target by most heavies. He has perfected the Malkin “duck” – something Vinny Lecavalier learned last week and frustrated Alex Ovechkin in the playoffs. With his strength and skill, Malkin avoids getting hit and hurt. He knows he is more valuable healthy and on the ice. Maybe that is lucky too.