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.”