Evgeni Malkin is taking a lot of flak for his alleged lack of production so far in the playoffs. That’s what happens when you win the Art Ross and Conn Smythe trophies – expectations are sky high and rightfully so. Geno has 4 goals and 5 assists in the 8 games the Pens have played. That’s good for second on the team. However, 3 of his goals (and 6 of his points) have come on the PP. If the Pens plan on beating Montreal, Malkin must raise his level of play, particularly 5-on-5.
Taking a closer look at his stats, Malkin had 3 points in the Pens’ Game 1 loss to Ottawa and 2 in their OT loss in Game 5. He can’t be blamed for the team’s failures in those two defeats. On Sunday, Halak was a brick wall. Nobody outside of the third line sniffed the net. I don’t think Geno’s play has cost the team…yet.
Malkin has been saddled with Alexei Ponikarovsky as a linemate throughout the post-season. The two have not found any semblance of chemistry, evidenced by Alex P’s single playoff goal. Hopefully Tyler Kennedy can infuse some life into the second line. He returned from injury and took Max Talbot’s spot on Sunday. Kennedy responded well, finishing second on the team with 5 shots on goal. Alex P had 3 shots and played one of his better games, in my opinion.
The bottom line is points, and the Pens need more of them from the reigning playoff MVP. What they really need is better even-strength play from the second line. If they don’t get it soon, this Montreal series could end up being a hell of a lot tougher than most of us predicted.