Tag Archives: Evgeni Malkin

COLUMN: Who Needs Top 100 When You Are Top 5?

We all witnessed the NHL’s “Top 100” list from earlier in the season. The glaring omission from the list was Penguins star forward Evgeni Malkin. Many analysts and fans said that it was a travesty for Malkin to not be considered a top 100 player of all time.

Despite being much more skilled than Blackhawks forward Johnathon Toews and now as many Cups as him, Toews was selected into the top 100 over Malkin. I’ll stop there and let you digest that.

Good now?

Let me let you in on a secret. Not only is Evgeni Malkin a top 100 player of all time in the National Hockey League, but I’d venture as far as to say that Malkin is back in the conversation of being a top five player in the world right now.

Many people weren’t too keen on this notion about a year ago. How could you not be anymore?

Malkin just won his third Stanley Cup as a player in the league. He already won one Conn Smythe award and, truthfully, should’ve beat out Sidney Crosby for this season’s. Malkin isn’t bothered by it, however. He just wants to win.

Malkin does win and when he does win, he’s usually a big reason why his team wins.

Put this in perspective: Malkin is 14th in all time points per game. That’s all time. Not this season. Not amongst active players. 14th ALL TIME.

Amongst active players? He’s second. Behind his teammate, the one and only Crosby.

Only one active player has more Cups than Malkin and that’s former teammate Chris Kunitz (4), who was also around for all three Cups the Penguins have won in the Crosby-Malkin era.

Remember the Eastern Conference Finals in 2009 against the Carolina Hurricanes? I remember when Evgeni Malkin dominated that series to the point where Carolina was embarrassed to have even showed up. But remember, some bogus group of writers say that Malkin isn’t a top 100 player.

The list was compiled early on in the season so it’s understandable that they were unaware that Malkin would become a three-time Stanley Cup champion. If they had to redo the list now, he’d be top 100 and I don’t think they could even mistake it this time around.

But, the main point of this article was not to plead his case for top 100 all-time. It was to talk about how Malkin’s name should be again thrown into the conversation of top five player in the league today.

There have been times where Malkin fell out of that conversation. I’ve been hard on him at times. But, that comes with the territory of being an elite player. It doesn’t help playing second fiddle to Crosby your entire career.

My top five changes about every few months based on dominant performances and “elite” players showing they might still have it.

If I had to rate my top five…

  1. Sidney Crosby
  2. Connor McDavid
  3. Erik Karlsson
  4. Patrick Kane
  5. Evgeni Malkin

That’s my list. Last season, Malkin was top 10. McDavid wasn’t so high up. Neither was Karlsson. The argument could’ve been made that Kane was potentially going to take Crosby’s spot at the top.

Now? Crosby reasserted himself as a clear number one. McDavid is the future of the league. Karlsson literally dragged his team to the Eastern Conference Finals. Kane’s team was swept out of the playoffs after entering as the West’s number one seed.

And Malkin?


All jokes aside…

He lead the playoffs in scoring. He was runner up to Crosby in Conn Smythe voting. He won his third Stanley Cup.

On July 31, Malkin will turn 31. He’s probably one of the most accomplished players ever by that age. And his prime years have brought him two Cups already. Him and Crosby both will be gunning to threepeat.

While the thought of threepeating seems ridiculous, the Penguins have two of the top five players in the league. I’m not quite sure if any team has two players in the top 10. One of those guys is a Russian who is driven by winning.


When Geno puts his mind to something, he does it. Mr. Number 101 is now soaking in the glory of being a three-time Cup champion. We know what Geno has done and it’s clear to see that he’s a top five player in this league to date.

What Penguins Would Have Fun Days With Cup?

It’s been 25 days since the Penguins won the Stanley Cup (again) followed by the victory parade and I am riding just as high as I hope many Pens fans still are. I was in attendance at the 2016 parade and had the time of my life for numerous reasons. While I wasn’t able to make it to this years 2017 parade, having some beers later and watching it on tv in celebration  made me feel like I was there once again at the party.

Winning 2 cups in a row, especially in the Salary Cap era, is very difficult to do. So I’m gonna enjoy the hell out of this 1 (again) much like many of the players did during the parade as you probably have seen by now. It got me to thinking, I wonder what some of the players (particularly the younger guys) are doing with their day with the cup?

Certainly everyone is gonna have fun with it, but who would I wanna be hanging with or as their goal song dictates “party hard” with come there day with the Cup?

I’m going to get this outta the way right now, Phil Kessel is always an automatic choice. There’s no need to explain, I love Phil Kessel, you love Phil Kessel, we all love him, we know the folklore about him. This is definitely obvious. It’s like talking about the greatest Yankees of all team, don’t even need to mention Babe Ruth because we all know he’s one of the greatest players of all time, same ruling goes for Kessel.

Jake Guentzel

Unlike many of his teammates, Guentzel was only on the latter of the back to back championships. For this being his 1st time meeting new best friend Stanley, Guentzel looked thrilled the entire time at the parade. He was seen fist pumping and cheering all the way down the route. My favorite part was him talking about what he’s doing with the cup:

“IM GOING BACK TO MINNESOTAAAAAA”. Jake Guentzel was literally a kid in a candy shop, he’s got a shiny new silver toy to play with this summer. Seeing Guentzel with that joy on his face during the whole parade makes me think that won’t stop at all, for me that’s a front row seat worth the price of admission.

Brian Dumoulin

Last year in 2016 we were blessed with this gem:

Than now in 2017 it might have been even better:

Biting open the can with your teeth is such a savage move I can’t help but be a fan of it. I for sure want to be around for what Dumo will do next.

Sidney Crosby:

As if 3 Stanley Cups and 2 Conn Smythe’s and a team parade wasn’t enough already for Sid, he now gets to be treated like a super hero. His hometown of Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia Canada loves their home grown kid so much that Crosby gets his own parde in town. Imagine that, a parade for just you, not any teammates, just yourself. I would love to be apart of that and be on 1 of the floats, definitely would be a cool thing to do.

I also think Sid would let loose a little in a place where you can see him behind the scenes. He’s always very calculated and reserved when it comes to doing interviews, it would be fun seeing the other fun side of Crosby.

Olli Maatta

Need I say more?

Carl Hagelin

“Swagelin” as some call him scored the last goal of the Cup Final, a thrilling feeling putting the last nail in your opponents coffin. He also had a rough year because of injury and under production of goal scoring that we normally see from the Swede. In other words, Hagelin could use the 2nd championship to blow off some steam.

He got right to it by joining Crosby at the NHL Awards over in Vegas. Surely Hagelin ripped up the town while he was there as he wasn’t up for any awards, just there hanging with Stanley and Sid in support of his teammate. I’ll hit the black jack tables with Hagelin anytime.

Ron Hainsey

Trade deadline acquisition Ron Hainsey always struck me as kind of similar to that old dad from the movie Project X, or maybe the fun neighbor you might be aware of. He’s the loving, responsible, caring father that he should be to his wife and kids. Then, one night, the young guys a few houses down decide to throw a real awesome party, Hainsey stops by to ask to keep the noise down, next thing you know he’s invited in and getting wild with everyone else, maybe doing some shots or a quick drinking game, having a great time and being one of the last to leave.

That’s how I imagine Hainsey felt as he wasted away his time in Carolina struggling and never making the playoffs (the nice dad who’s kinda boring). Next he’s on the Penguins in the playoffs, having fun, being productive, scoring goals in the Stanley Cup (the crazy dad) slicing through defenders and finally winning that Stanley Cup! Hainsey than dressed up as a catcher and caught the 1st pitch thrown by Sidney Crosby at the Pirates game the next day. It’s been some ride for Hainsey, he can finally relax.

Evgeni Malkin

This really just comes down to the fact that Malkin has always been my favorite player. He’s also the all time playoff points leader in Russia. The reception he probably gets when he brings the Cup back to his town of Magnitogorsk is probably 1 similar to when Steph Curry goes back to Charlotte.

Justin Schultz

I just want to recreate a bunch of the memes that have now went viral of Schutlz walking and chugging. There’s no question he, Maatta, Conor Sheary and Guentzel were the ones really getting after it at the parade, if you know what I mean.

Really you could make a case for any Penguins player on this roster. Back to back, sounds great to say. Raise a glass, a cold one, or the finest bottle of choice for your 2017 Stanley Cup Champs!

 

 

Offseason Player Grades: Evgeni Malkin

Regular Season Statistics

62 GP, 33 G, 39 A, 72 PTS, +18 +/-, 77 PIM

Playoff Statistics

25 GP, 10 G, 18 A, 28 PTS, +9 +/-, 53 PIM

Player Grade: A+

As a top 5 player in the league, Evgeni Malkin once again played like one. I think we’ve all come to terms accepting that he won’t be around for a full 82 game slate. That doesn’t matter though, when on the ice he’s a threat from the moment he’s out there. Players like Malkin make you get up out of your seat when he enters the offensive zone, even as great as he is, some plays he makes can still wow and surprise you.

He created opportunities this year like no one else has before, he played around with a few different teammates on his line, each excelling better with him as their centerman. Malkin saved his best for last though, scoring the most points by anyone in the playoffs after people questioned how we would perform this time. What else is there to say about him? He constantly provides a positive impact to this team, always remains between the top 5-10 in league scoring, yet still sometimes gets overlooked. Malkin is a true wondrous gem of luxury to the city of Pittsburgh.

Review

He might have missed 20 games because of injury this season but Malkin was as explosive as ever. The Penguins are a fine team even when missing 1 of their 2 headed monster, but theres an added element when Geno is there, he brings the team to a larger level that you didn’t know was capable of the squad.

Starting from the opening game against Washington, Geno got right to it scoring a goal and assist, he never looked back. Malkin picked up the slack when Sidney Crosby missed the 1st week of the season, even upon his return there was never a lull in Malkin’s game.

Other than winning all the Stanley Cups, this is close to my favorite moments ever. Fast Forward to the 2:20 mark:

He never went scoreless in more than 2 games in a row, showing his valued production to the world. You never had to worry about him, only wonder what he would do next. The defacto leader of the power play, Malkin was never 1 for shying away from the biggest moments.

Much of the highlighted mentions about Evgeni Malkin came away from the ice. It started when he was wrongfully snubbed of the top 100 players of all time list, a choice that is still egregious.

This motivated him even more, and he was briefly rewarded on February 17th when he recorded his 500th assist, a milestone moment for the assistant captain.

Storylines continued for him after his feud against Blake Wheeler. There was a hit made by Malkin on Wheeler that was definitely not the cleanest of checks yet garnered no disciplinary action from the league. Both men would drop the gloves in their next meeting after Geno accpeted the invitation.

Malkin was praised by NHL peers after a postgame interview where he pretty much explained that this how hockey works, he understood the magnitude after the original hit and has great respect for Wheeler, which is why he gave Wheeler the chance to fire back with a  fight. Geno universally received largely respected remarks for his interview.

Despite playing less games than others point leaders, Malkin still finished top 15 in regular season Points and his 1.16 Points Per Game landed him 4th overall.

His last bit of news finished after he put a bow on the Stanley Cup by fighting PK Subban and scoring the most points of the playoffs while winning a 3rd Cup. Malkin wears his heart on his sleeve, he wasn’t afraid to show it there.

He as always did have his spotlight on the ice also. This included the aforementioned 500th milestone assist for certain, but also a hat trick against Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals in a crazy 8-7 win over their rivals.

In the playoffs all he did was lead the way for the league in total points. Thanks to him having the clutch gene, Malkin had some very clutch goals at great times. His playoff moments include scoring the opening goal of the Stanley Cup Finals, some sweet (many of them power play) goals at home over Pekka Rinne’s glove side, and of course his Gordie Howe Hat Trick in game 5.

Maybe it was the top 100 snub, or personal pride being the top guy on his team against Crosby or his country against Ovehckin, but Malkin seemed to have a chip on his shoulder the whole year. For what it’s worth, I’d take Malkin over Ovechkin no question about it. Evgeni Malkin is an alpha.

2018 Preview

Penguins fans everywhere I believe expect the same things we have come to see from Malkin. From a team leader to comedic relief and another 80+ point season, I don’t see any signs or reason to think the he won’t be capable of what he does seamlessly from year to year. Will he play in every game this year? No, another 60 game season from Geno is better than 82 games of 85% of the league.

Conclusion

Evgeni Malkin did as Evgeni Malkin always does, and that’s dominate the game. Can you say much more about him? He plays with passion that won’t slow down, he takes it upon himself to carry the Penguins in the most important of moments. There’s a reason you can hear the PPG Paints Arena constantly chanting GENO! GENO! GENO! after an oncoming rush or a brief scrap he gets involved in.  Another hockey season saw Malkin at his best in both the regular and playoff season. Though he didn’t win the Conn Smythe even though he probably should have, a Stanley Cup is still nice. He will always be my favorite to watch, can’t wait to see it again next year.

Malkin the Sure Fire Conn Smythe Winner

In Wednesday night’s home game Pittsburgh Penguins Evgeni Malkin rocketed a wrister over Pekka Rinne’s glove hand and ultimately chased the netminder. That goal was Malkin’s ninth of these playoffs and honestly his flashiest.

No doubt we have all seen Malkin score some incredible highlight reel goals. For example a no-look-top shelf-spin-o-rama-backhand or razzle dazzled forehand-backhand while falling down. But that’s not something we’ve seen from the Penguins assistant captain this post season. What we have seen is Malkin quietly rack up 26 points in 23 games as the playoffs scoring leader. Quietly the Penguins’ center has made his case for the Conn Smythe winner as playoff MVP, should the Penguins closeout the Predators with two more wins.

Malkin has mostly been playing with Phil Kessel on his wing. While the other side, has been a revolving door of wingers (Kunitz, Wilson, Guentzel, Hornqvist, Rust). Phil Kessel has only seven goals while Kunitz, Wilson, Hornqvist, and Rust have only combined for 12 goals. Guentzel only being on his wing briefly also has very few points while playing alongside Malkin. This poses the question, where is Evgeni Malkin getting all of these points? Fact is Malkin’s dominance in all three zones has made whoever is on the ice with him better.

Is Malkin the top choice for the Conn Smythe Trophy, should the Penguins win? The answer is absolutely! When Crosby was dealing with concussion symptoms during the Washington series, Malkin stepped up as he always does. While only producing one assist on the game winning goal, Malkin played 20+ hard minutes and winning 76% of his faceoffs. On top of that he dominated in the puck possession game. Malkin put the team on his back as did the other locker room leader, and if he was still playing, a close second Conn Smythe Trophy candidate, Marc-Andre Fluery.

But again, this scenario only works if the Penguins win the Stanley Cup. For that to happen, Malkin will have to elevate his game once again, unlike games three and four.

(Don Wright-USA TODAY Sports)

Malkin Completely Contained in Nashville

The Pittsburgh Penguins only scored two goals in their two previous games in Nashville. while Malkin did not factor in on any of those goals. Even worse, Malkin was a -3 with three shots on goal in two games, while winning an average of just over 39% of the faceoffs. When compared to the rest of his playoff stats, it is clear that Evgeni Malkin is an important factor in this series, for the Penguins to repeat as champions. The Penguins have had a few days rest and Malkin did not partake in Thursday’s optional morning skate. This will hopefully give Malkin the energy he needs to help give the Penguins a 3-2 series lead.

Malkin Makes Promise and Delivers

Evgeni Malkin told the media days before game five that Phil Kessel would score. He also exclaimed the he and his teammates would play better than their performance in Nashville. Malkin either has a crystal ball or can predict the future because the Penguins leader was right on all accounts. Malkin lead the team in hits with five, scored a goal, added an assist, and mixed it up with numerous Predators in defense of his teammates. His teammates played exceptional from top to bottom which included Phil Kessel scoring and adding two assists. When Malkin says it’s so, everyone should believe. Leadership, playoffs leading scorer, predictor of the future, if that’s not Conn Smythe worthy then I don’t know what is.

Should Evgeni Malkin and the Penguins win one more game and repeat as Stanley Cup Champions, the likely-hood of the Conn Smythe Trophy being awarded to Malkin, should be eminent. It takes 16 wins to become Stanley Cup Champions and Penguins need one more. No doubt it will take another All-Star effort by Malkin and his teammates to make it happen.

 

Killer Instinct Key To Penguins Playoff Run

Heading in to a potential Stanley Cup clinching game, the Pittsburgh Penguins have proven an old cliche completely wrong. 

The saying “we need to play 60 minutes” is, and always has been, utter nonsense.The 2016-2017 playoff Penguins have been remarkably inconsistent for a team making it all the way to the Final. Even taking out the surprise Columbus Blue Jackets in 5 games in Round 1, Pittsburgh wasn’t the better team over 60 minutes for more than 2 of them.

They are also, however, remarkably resilient. They have that killer instinct where they know when to turn it on. Every team has had their moments where they’ve made the Penguins look mediocre. Really bad even.

They’ve had more than their share of frustrations. They’ve had a struggling power play. They’ve had lacklustre goaltending. They have had slumping stars. They’ve had them sometimes all at the same time. Opposing team supporters are almost right when they say the Penguins have no business being in the Final.

Yet here they are, one win away from repeating as Stanley Cup champions. 

No matter what happens over the next game or maybe two, you can’t possibly believe it’s dumb luck anymore.

You can’t possibly deny the leadership abilities of Sidney Crosby, or the complete game he plays. You can’t possibly still believe Evgeni Malkin is only a good player being carried. You can no longer believe they just happened to luck into solid rookie depth players who have miraculously all decided to play above their potential consistently for two seasons and two playoffs. 

What you have to accept is this team is everything the “blind supporters” believe it is. 

The last team to repeat as Stanley Cup Champions are the 1997 and 1998 Detroit Red Wings and that’s very important. When you look at another very complete player in captain Steve Yzerman, you see another leader who sacrificed offensive dominance for team success. You see another group of overachieving third and fourth liners who played out of their minds.

You can look at that and say Yzerman was just fortunate to have played with a bunch of future hall of Famers. Or you could understand following a leader like that showed them what it took to be Hall of Famers.

In a decade or so, time will tell how many Hall of Famers or long term career contributors there are on these 2016 and 2017 Penguins teams, but at that time I also hope we don’t forget they started as just bunch of nobody rookies playing follow the leader.

COLUMN: Sit Back, Relax, And Enjoy

In the Stanley Cup Finals, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Nashville Predators are tied at two games a piece heading into game five of the best of seven series. And yet, people are still unsatisfied.

Walk around downtown and you hear the murmurs of negativity. Talk to your co-worker and it’s likely they want off with Matt Murray‘s head. Heck, call your family members and I’m sure panic has begun to set in amongst the household.

The Penguins first won the Stanley Cup back in 1991 and then did it again in 92’. They won in 2009 and again last season. They lost to the Detroit Red Wings in 2008. 1991 was exactly 26 years ago. The Penguins have been to six Stanley Cups in that time frame. They have participated in 23% of the Stanley Cup Finals since 1991. Only the Detroit Red Wings have appeared in as many the Penguins.

That’s an important thing to ponder when you look at how successful the Penguins as a franchise have been. So how does that in any way, shape, or form affect the 2016-17′ Penguins? Ask Mike Sullivan.

Calm, cool, collected. Three very good adjectives to describe one of the best things to happen to the Penguins since Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang. The Penguins have yet to lose a playoff series under Sullivan and have faced this much adversity on many occasions.

As one of my friends today put it: “This might be the best era of Penguins hockey we’ve ever seen”.

He isn’t referring to the 26 years that have elapsed since the Penguins first championship. He’s speaking on behalf of what the next 3-5 years could potentially hold.

The Penguins are back in the same Stanley Cup Finals that they won last season and took an early two game lead after the first two games played at PPG Paints Arena. They’re the first team to participate in back to back Stanley Cups since…themselves and Detroit. The Blackhawks 3-in-6 “dynasty” that we talk about could easily be topped by this team. Don’t count it out. They’ve got a chance to be 2-in-2.

And what’s this goalie debate you speak of? Who really cares if we are being honest. This is the best goalie tandem that the Penguins have ever had and will ever have. Unfortunately, the salary cap and the expansion draft will likely force the Penguins to have to break up this tandem.

In his darkest of days, no one has been more supportive of Marc-Andre Fleury than Murray. Fleury spent all of last season’s playoffs, sans the loss to Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference Finals, riding the bench after returning from his concussion. He played these playoffs until a 4 goals on 9 shots performance in game three of this season’s Eastern Conference Finals got him yanked from the crease.

Murray, who began this season on the injured reserve, has been stellar this postseason outside of his game four performance that has the Murray/Fleury debate rearing its ugly head.

Just let it be. Instead of beig opposed to one of these outstanding goalies, appreciate the fact that it’s very likely that the Penguins don’t make it to this point had Jim Rutherford shipped away Fleury amidst the trade deadline rumors.

It seems as though the Penguins finally will have to get rid of part of the “core four” when Fleury likely parts ways this offseason. That era has brought its ups and downs. Can you even fathom what this era will do?

Not only will Crosby, Malkin, and Letang rest assuredly be in a Penguins uniform next season, add the likes of Jake Guentzel for a full season. Even further down that 3-5 year path, talented prospects like Daniel Sprong and Zach Aston-Reese will be showcasing their NHL talents.

I could name plenty of young guys who we’ve watched over the past two postseasons do magical things for the Penguins. They’ve never had this much speed or balance or depth or any part of the magical formula that wins teams hockey games this day in age.

If the Penguins can win game five and take a 3-2 stronghold on the series, can they win one of the final two and take home Lord Stanley.

That would mean that with all the talent they’ve got, they’d have four years to match or even better the “3-in-6” standard set by Chicago. They’ll have better stars and a better goalie than Chicago did to do the trick.

Seriously, quit worrying about the little things with this team. They’ve done nothing but prove you wrong, anyway. Relax, grab a pepsi or coke, watch this team play their way one game closer to that final victory to win them a second consecutive Stanley Cup Finals.

Keys/Notes to Game 4

The Pittsburgh Penguins head into game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals up 2-1, the exact same situation they were in last season and well, we all know how that ended.

  • After Sunday’s practice, it appears that Matt Murray will remain the starter for the Pens in game 4 and rightfully so. Murray is an astounding 7-0 following a playoff loss. Murray has proven in is short NHL career that his ability to bounce back after a loss is top notch. It’s no surprise Sullivan sticks with his guy.

 

Nashville Predators center Colton Sissons (10) celebrates a goal as Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Matt Murray (30) looks on during the second period in Game 3 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Finals Saturday, June 3, 2017, in Nashville, Tenn. Photo: Mark Humphrey, AP / Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

  • Shockingly it appears that Nick Bonino will be a game time decision for game 4. Bonino missed game 3 with a lower body injury (ankle) and was in a boot and on crutches the past two days. He did skate early Sunday morning, and then later participate in practice, being part of the second power play unit.

  • Geno Malkin. I believe that game 4 is the type of game we can see Geno take over. After a frustrating game 3, I fully expect Malkin to come out with a purpose and lead the pens to a victory in Nashville.

  • The Power play. There is no question that the Pens power play has struggled during the finals. The Penguins are just 1-13 in finals on the power play. With their one goal coming in game 1. If it is a mixing of lines, moving players around in the zone, or a new look player play completely, special teams wins or loses games and right now it is costing the Pens.

Image result for penguins power play

The Pens look to take a commanding 3-1 series lead Monday night in Nashville. It will not be an easy game, but the Penguins have proven that they bounce back well after a loss. Puck drop is set for a little after 8pm in Nashville on NBC.