by Cole Wight
MVP. That is just one of the many words that can be used to describe Evgeni Maklin’s play this year. The 25 year old Russian Superstar has put the Penguins on his shoulders and carried them this season; mostly without the services of fellow superstar and face-of-the-franchise Sidney Crosby. There have even been some periods of time without Jordan Staal.
Last season Evgeni Malkin’s season came to a short and disappointing end. We all remember that fateful day during the Penguins 43rd game of the season when Malkin suffered a torn ACL and torn MCL in his right knee after this hit from Buffalo’s Tyler Myers. The injury caused Malkin to miss the rest of the 2010-2011 season including the Playoffs. Malkin inevitably underwent knee surgery and after a long offseason of intense off-ice and on-ice workouts Malkin was determined to get back to being arguably the best player in the game.
The 2012 preseason came around and Malkin looked like never missed a beat as the he helped the Penguins start off the season 5-1. Malkin scored 3 goals and tailed 4 assists in the 4 games he played in; he did experience some knee soreness early on.
Malkin did in fact play the first games of the regular season against, which were on the west coast versus Vancouver and Calagry. In the game against Vancouver he notched an assist on James Neal’s first goal of the season and scored in the shootuout in a 4-3 Penguins victory. In the Penguins 5-3 victory over the Flames Malkin tailed no points and actually ended up getting in a fight. He was subsequently kicked out of the game for not having his jersey tied down.
Malkin then missed the Penguins third game on their opening road trip for precautionary reasons (related to the aforementioned knee injury). He missed seven of eight games in October, but picked up his play and has without question been the most dominant player in the NHL since November. On most night he ends up the most noticeable player on the ice, and that includes games both before and after Sidney Crosby returned to the Pens lineup.
Geno is the hockey equivalent of baseball version of a five-tool player with a unique brand of speed, power, skill, and both a powerful and accurate shot. His one-timer is a goalie's (and a shot blocker's) worst nightmare. He became the first player since the 1995-96 season to post at least four 5-point games in one season. Thus far he's had 29 multiple-point games entering the final week of the season.
Furthermore, after scoring only 7 points in October, Malkin had at least 16 points per month in each of the next five months. That includes a 20 point effort in February, and 23 in the month of March. Seventy-one has torched the Penguins' biggest rivals with 5 goals against the Rangers, and 4 each against the Devils, Flyers and Capitals. He still had one game left against both the Rangers and Flyers entering this week.
The city of Winnipeg will never forget Malkin either. That's because he's had 8 goals and 3 assists in four meetings with them this season. He's also had 11 points against the Lightning and 8 against the Sabres.
Were in the last week of the NHL and Malkin currently leads the league in points with 104. The next two closet people to him are Stamkos (92) and Claude Giroux (89). We're probably not going to see a repeat his 113 point Art-Ross season back in 2008-2009. Incidentally he played in all 82 games that year. Evgeni is however likely to add both the Art Ross, and the Hart this year. But if you asked him what's most important he'd probably tell you its helping his team win their 4th Stanley Cup.
Here's some of Geno's best thus far...