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Malkin Needs to Step Up

The Penguins have lost three in a row without Sidney Crosby. They’ve scored three goals in those games. Pittsburgh, we have a problem.

Evgeni Malkin has 15 goals and 35 points in 39 games thus far. Most would argue that that’s just not enough production for a player of Malkin’s pedigree and, perhaps more importantly, salary-cap hit. Personally, I would agree.

I’m not going to rehash #71’s struggles throughout the season. Instead, I’ll focus on the present. The Pens need Malkin to raise his game now while Crosby is out. Unfortunately, he isn’t doing so. Geno set up Kris Letang’s PP goal Monday against Boston, but he finished -2. Saturday against Minnesota he was a putrid -3, and he could have won the game last week against Montreal in the shootout but failed to capitalize.

I’m not sure where the Malkin of 08-09 went. You know, the guy who scored 113 points in 82 games and went on to win the Conn Smythe trophy. Is he injured? Perhaps, but if Malkin is healthy enough to suit up, that can’t be used as an excuse. Are his linemates dragging him down? I’m not buying this one. Great players make those around them better, and Malkin is supposed to be a great player. Plus, it’s not like Geno’s skating with no-talent bums. Should he play center or wing? It doesn’t matter where Malkin plays – whether it’s alongside Jordan Staal or centering Kunitz and Dupuis – he has to start scoring if the Pens are going to survive without Crosby. If he doesn’t, look for the losing to continue…until Crosby returns, that is.

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