Pittsburgh Penguins History: The Birth of Malkamania

Pittsburgh Penguins, Evgeni Malkin. (Photo credit should read YURI KUZMIN/AFP via Getty Images)
Pittsburgh Penguins, Evgeni Malkin. (Photo credit should read YURI KUZMIN/AFP via Getty Images) /

Pittsburgh Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin‘s rise in the NHL has been met with almost as much criticism as it has praise, but following the 2008-09 season, Malkin would silence a lot of critics. Here is a look back at the birth of “Malkamania”.

If you were looking for a point and time in Pittsburgh Penguins history that Malkin put the entire NHL on notice to just how lethal he could be, you could look to the 2008-09 season, where Malkin would earn several accolades and you would look specifically to the Penguins Eastern Conference Finals Series vs. Carolina.

Sure, Malkin had shown glimpses of his ability to take over games on other occasions, but you would be hard-pressed to find a better example of another player imposing his will against his opponents than the series vs. the Hurricanes.

Many “experts” around the league began to question Malkin’s drive, after a five-game goalless streak earlier in the playoffs, but as the playoffs wore on many critics were silenced. And as the old saying goes “Whatcha gonna do when Malkamania runs wild on you”

A Penguin Possessed

Prior to the series with Carolina, Malkin scored six goals and 19 points in the Penguins 13 games, vs. Philidelphia and Washington, and logged 281 minutes of ice time through the first two rounds.

Malkin scored one goal and added an assist as Pittsburgh took Game 1 by a score of 3-2.

As the team’s recalibrated for Game 2, history was on Carolina’s side as Cam Ward was a career 5-0 with a goals-against-average of 1.18 in the second game of a series.

Sidney Crosby opened the scoring with his sixth consecutive opening goal in the playoffs, matching the NHL record held by Bobby Hull and Fernando Pisani.

After an altercation with Chad Larose, Malkin became a man possessed, playing the hard, aggressive style that would become his career m.o. once he became focused on somethings.

Malkin completed the hat-trick with back-to-back goals in the third period as the Penguins took the game 7-4 and put themselves up two games to none in the series.

Malkin finished the game with four points, the game-winning-goal, eight shots on net, and two penalty minutes.

Cult Heroes

Other members of the Malkin have developed into cult heroes over the course of “Geno’s” career.

Vladamir and Natalia Malkin have become mainstays in the stands of Penguins games and have become almost as famous as their son.

After Malkin scored his third goal, the camera and the crowd’s attention were firmly focused on the celebration of Malkin’s parents as they celebrated.

Fast Facts

  • Chris Kunitz scored his first postseason goal since May 11, 2007 in Game 2, which represented a stretch of 22 games.
  • The Penguins outshot the Hurricanes 75-53 through the first two games.
  • It’s a good thing for Pittsburgh that Matt Cooke avoided a suspension following a knee-on-knee hit to Eric Cole in Game 1 as he earned three assists (two on Malkin goals and one on Tyler Kennedy‘s empty-net goal)
  • Jordan Staal was so good in the face-off circle, brother Eric accused him of cheating. I am not sure what Logan Couture’s thoughts were.

Do you think Malkamania was born in the Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Hurricanes series? and where does Malkin rate on the list of all-time Pittsburgh Penguins greats?