*Rumblings, Musings, Opinions*
1. Evgeni Malkin’s compete level being questioned? That wouldn’t be the first time, though, I don’t agree with that notion. NHL analyst Pierre McGuire went that far on Wednesday in an interview with Joe Starkey of 937 The Fan that aired in the 2:00 p.m. hour of the Starkey – Miller – Mueller show. “I’m really concerned about Evgeni,” McGuire told Starkey. They key quote from McGuire was this one about Malkin’s compete level: “The bottom line is if you want to play in this league you got to compete every single day and every single night. He’s a star player, he needs to compete harder, I think he knows that.”
What made this newsworthy to me is because McGuire is basically a cheerleader for the Penguins organization. He’s very close friends with GM Ray Shero and you’ll rarely hear McGuire ever be critical about the Penguins organization or a key player. Often times when McGuire talks about the Penguins you would think the Penguins are the 1980’s Islanders and have won four straight Cups. For those reasons I thought it was very interesting to hear McGuire make those comments.
However, I don’t think the compete level is the big issue. He’s just not a fundamentally sound player like he should be in some areas. Last night, though, Malkin’s play wasn’t an issue. He was excellent in distributing the puck but there were situations why he only has three goals this season such as pulling up on the rush with 10 seconds left in the second period instead of just letting a shot rip.
2. With no goals in 11 games and on pace for just 14 goals and 73 points, Malkin’s play is starting to get magnified and what really stands out to me and makes Sidney Crosby so special is that Crosby’s never had a so called down year. Since 2006-2007, his second NHL season, Crosby has never averaged under 1.33 points per game and in his career has never averaged under 1.26 points per game.
Evgeni Malkin’s three superstar type seasons were in 2007-2008 (106 pts in 82 games), 2008-2009 (113 pts in 82 games), and 2011-2012 (109 pts in 75 games).
During those specific seasons he averaged 1.29 points per game, 1.37 points per game and 1.45 points per game. As Sidney Crosby has been able to maintain a 1.33 points per game average or higher since his second season, Malkin has not been able to match the type of consistency when he posted 1.29 points per game in his second season. He’s been all over the map since.
While Malkin has had three “superstar” type seasons, he’s also had three “down” seasons and could be going on a fourth “down season” in five years: 2009-2010 (77 points in 67 games, 1.16 PPG) 2010-2011 (37 points in 43 games, 0.86 PPG), 2013 (33 points in 31 games, 1.06 PPG), 2013-2014 (16 Points in 18 Games, 0.89 PPG). Malkin should be a 1.25 points per game player every year.
3. While Malkin is on pace for 14 goals this season (Let that sink in), his best goal scoring years came in 2007-2008 when he scored 47 goals and 2011-2012 when he scored a career high 50 goals. What was the trend from those years? He had a power forward type winger on his wing who could get on the forecheck first and be a net-front presence. In 2007-2008 it was Ryan Malone, and 2011-2012 it was Chris Kunitz. Last season and this season he doesn’t have that type of player. Maybe management needs to go find that type of player for him.
4. Don’t be surprised if shootouts are gone from the game in the next year or two. There appears to be more momentum to expanding the overtime rules and I don’t get the sense many players are fans of shootouts. What the NHL should adopt is 5 minutes of four on four OT, followed by 5 minutes of three on three.
5. Sabres owner Terry Pegula sure has a ton of money but there’s few around the game who seem to feel he’s hiring the right people for the organization. Pegula has come off to some as running the organization as a “fan” by hiring all his buddies. The joke going around is that if Pegula could pull it off he would name his right hand man Joe Battista General Manager of the Sabres.