Evgeni Malkin is coming back to form after going goalless for 15 games. He has been red hot and is currently on an eight game point streak during which he has four goals and 13 assists. Malkin is finally reaching the expectation of Pittsburgh Penguins and fans throughout the NHL. It’s just my opinion, but I have always thought that Malkin was more important to the Penguins than Sidney Crosby.
I know; call me crazy. The thing is Malkin is their No. 2. He could very easily be any other team’s No. 1 star player. Over the past few years Malkin has played his best hockey when Crosby has been out of the lineup. The Penguins are the most dangerous when both of these guys are clicking on all cylinders and they are playing with confidence. Crosby hasn’t had his best season this year with 36 points which is only one ahead of Malkin. Crosby is second on the team in goals with 13, and these are numbers that fall well behind the pace and expectations that fans expect from him.
At the end of the day the Penguins are the Penguins, and they are going to be right there until the end. They have received better goaltending so far this year, and their team defense has improved greatly. This may be part of the reason for the Penguins star players to have a dip in production. It’s harder to score goals when you’re back-checking and not hanging up around the opposing blue line.
The statistics may not be there, but with Malkin heating up it’s hard not to make them the favorites in the east again.