Highly castigated for his lack of goal-scoring so far this season, Pittsburgh Penguins’ forward Evgeni Malkin is about ready to quiet the critics.
Scoring his first goal since Oct. 17 last Friday, Malkin has compiled eight points (1G, 7A) in the last four games and been a major contributor for Pittsburgh’s offense in recent play.
Creating phenomenal scoring chances for Pittsburgh, Malkin was named the NHL’s ‘First Star’ for this past week and has shot the puck a lot more in the process. Firing 21 shots over the past seven contests, Malkin had pelted just 12 shots in the eight games prior, and when Malkin is shooting the puck, more often than not he’s going to see results.
A rocket when it’s released off the tape of his stick, the one aspect to Malkin’s game that fans’ came to love was his ability to bury the biscuit at such a dominant rate. And while I applaud him for attempting to better his all-around game, at times he can pass too much.
We’ve seen more cross-ice passes this year from Malkin then we probably ever have, and a lot of that has to do with how captain Sidney Crosby plays. Crosby, who is known to pull-up upon entering the offensive zone and look for the trailer, seems to have rubbed off on Malkin. Not that it’s a bad idea to look for the open player, but Malkin isn’t Crosby, and he shouldn’t try to emulate him.
That isn’t to suggest that he is, it just seems that way from a personal perspective.Aside from picking-apart his style of play, we are all about to witness Malkin be, well, Evgeni Malkin.
In part, a lot of his success also has to do with the fact that forward James Neal has returned to action. Seeing multiple wingers flow through his second-unit, Malkin’s comfortability is arguably the highest it’s been all season.
Which is why it would’ve been devastating to see him shelved should he have been badly hurt after his awkward crash into the boards last Saturday.
Despite receiving a scare, he was able to finish the game unscathed and seemed as if he didn’t feel an aftereffects from the accident – a huge sigh of relief for the team. The collision was almost a carbon copy of the one he suffered last season, where he sustained a concussion and was out for an extended period of time.
Already without forward Beau Bennett for potentially a long-term, it was unfortunate to see him get injured because of how he was just starting to heat up, and any sort of ailment for Malkin would have been the double-whammy for Pittsburgh.
Now that all doubts have been removed towards Malkin’s health, his assault on opposing goaltenders will continue to take full-swing.
Currently ranked fourth in the NHL for scoring (26 points), he’s just four points removed from equaling his teammate Crosby – who leads the league – and is tied with San Jose Sharks’ forward Joe Thornton for the league-lead in assists (22).
The knock against Malkin was all just early judgement of the NHL’s top-3 player. Maligned for his inability to score so far, he’s still a force to be reckoned with and will now look to maintain his current onslaught.
He’ll be back in action tonight, as the Pens’ got the Bruins in Boston. The game can be seen on the ROOT network, and is set to start at 7 p.m.