Penguins Getting a great season from Evgeni Malkin

The Penguins won a Stanley Cup last season with Evgeni Malkin being very pedestrian offensively and with his body breaking down late in seasons, he played with a bad elbow injury last spring and played injured during the 2015 post-season, it was natural that there were questions even during the Penguins playoff run about how many great seasons if any he still had in him set to enter his 30’s.

Outside of Pittsburgh, there was chatter among league executives this past summer who were certain that if the Tampa Bay Lightning would have knocked off the Penguins in the Eastern Conference Finals after going up 3-2, a blow up was going to happen in Pittsburgh and Malkin would have been moved with the Panthers a likely landing spot, others had said Montreal.

All of that talk is for nothing now.

What the Penguins are getting is a great season out of Malkin, in what’s been his most dominant play on a consistent basis since the 2011-2012 season.

Returning from a seven game absence tonight, Malkin led the way with a goal, assist in a 4-0 win over the Canucks. For a borderline playoff team like the Canucks are, when Malkin is going like this, the Penguins are nearly impossible to matchup with.

When he’s going like this, they’re a scary matchup for almost every team.

Malkin has just looked like he’s in a great place all season. His patience with the puck again tonight is just on an all-world level and you can see him imposing his size a lot more below the dots and in the net-front area much like he did as a younger player. Not with an abrasive physical style but with getting proper position for scoring chances.

The weight being off Crosby and Malkin’s shoulders with winning the Cup last June is showing in both of their play this season.

If the Penguins got this Malkin in the playoffs, it could be 2009 all over again in the Penguins just outscoring teams. The first key will be his body not breaking down as the season progresses.


— Malkin on Crosby trying to get that 1,000th point: “Hope next game. Too much pressure,” Malkin joked. “I think he’s a little bit nervous right now.”

Right Wing Experiment showing Potential

— In the Coyotes game there were some intriguing signs that Jake Guentzel playing his off-wing will open him up to more individual scoring chances and see him use his shot more effectively coming down the right side.

Tonight he had a goal, and 5 shots, all at even strength. Guentzel probably should have had his first career hat trick. The Crosby line produced a number of grade-A chances.

“I thought he was terrific,” Mike Sullivan said of Guentzel. “We’ve like what we’ve seen so far. Don’t think they’ve [Crosby Line] got rewarded on the score sheet for what they’re doing out there. They’ve created a lot of opportunities. Puck hasn’t gone in for them last couple games but we’ve really liked the line and what it’s been generating offensively for sure.”

Penguins send Big Guns to Avalanche – Devils Game



While the Penguins scouted the Buffalo Sabres for the third straight tonight, the Penguins had a strong presence at the Avalanche – Devils game.

Assistant General Manager Bill Guerin and Director of Pro Scouting Derek Clancey were in attendance which is notable because Clancey only makes scouting trips at this time of the year to run reports on specific players and Guerin is Rutherford’s top lieutenant when it comes to evaluating personnel/trade targets.

Friedman on Penguins

Sportnet’s Elliotte Friedman had some Penguin talk in his Weekly 30 thoughts column this week.

Among them:

[5. Pittsburgh GM Jim Rutherford on the Penguins: “We’ve played pretty well, and we’ll be even better when everyone gets healthy. We’ve got another gear or two.”
Does he worry about where they finish in the brutal Metropolitan Division?
“I don’t think it’s fair to ask Mike Sullivan to squeeze a group that had so little time off in the summer, like San Jose. We’ll see where we finish and take our chances.”

6. During Saturday’s Headlines, Nick Kypreos brought up the possibility of Pittsburgh getting Duchene. Prior to that, Rutherford shrugged off the idea the club could not add anyone with term. “I’ll do anything to win,” he said Friday. “If we have to fix our cap situation, we can do it after the season.”
I could see Gabriel Landeskog being a fit here, too. The organization does have Trevor Daley, Patric Hornqvist and Chris Kunitz — all of whom make at least $3.3 million — coming off the books in the next two summers. Nick mentioned Derrick Pouliot as bait for a Colorado trade, but if this does happen, a more likely suspect would be Olli Maatta. Rutherford added it is his “preference to keep Marc-Andre Fleury as insurance for Matt Murray. But I recognize he wants to play.”]