Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Malkin Coming Alive

For much of last season and the start of this season, Pittsburgh Penguins fans were saying that Evgeni Malkin was underachieving. After battling through injuries to his shoulder and knee, Malkin has missed a decent amount of games. Malkin played in a career low 67 games last season and had his lowest point total of his NHL career. He also had the highest amount of penalty minutes in his career last season. With enormous expectations each year, fans began to worry whether they would see the “Geno” they are used to seeing. The 24 year old Russian has already won an Art Ross trophy as well as a Conn Smythe trophy, both in 2009 when the Penguins won the Stanley Cup. After being selected by Pittsburgh as the second overall pick in the 2004 NHL Draft, Malkin did not make his NHL debut until the 2006-07 season since he played in Russia. There was a large transfer dispute that prevented Malkin from coming to the United States. When he came to Pittsburgh, he made an immediate impact by winning the Calder Memorial trophy, given to the league’s top rookie.

This season, Malkin has shown flashes of his talent, but it seemed like he could not get a break. After the first 26 games of the season, he had a total of 22 points, far from what fans expect of him. The Penguins center has been bothered by a sore knee and it may have been affecting his performance. After sitting out four games to let it heal, Malkin has been lighting the lamp quite a bit. After a career high five point performance in the Penguins 6-1 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes on Monday, he has reached 30 points. Therefore, he has recorded eight points in his last three games. Five of those eight points are goals, which puts his goal total at 13, which is 24th in the NHL. Many people have noticed his recent surge, including fans of other teams. While the Penguins fans have been supporting their team for the NHL All-Star Game, Malkin picked up a total of 31,152 votes last week to move past Steven Stamkos for the third position among forwards. His teammates center Sidney Crosby and defenseman Kris Letang are the top two vote getters thus far. Even Max Talbot, who has played on Malkin’s line this season has been voting for him. “Everyday. That’s all I do. Six votes a day I’m allowed to,” Talbot said. While the Penguins fans and players try to get Malkin into the All-Star Game, Malkin hopes his recent surge continues as Pittsburgh is gearing up for a game against the Florida Panthers tonight as well as a date with their rival, the Washington Capitals tomorrow night. The entire hockey world will be watching the highly anticipated Pittsburgh-Washington matchup, which is a perfect time for “Geno” to shine.

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