What's 'wrong' with Evgeni Malkin?


geno2.jpgLast year, Evgeni Malkin came just short of winning the Hart Trophy before winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP. If there were an NHL award for best overall season, Malkin may have been the unanimous choice. So, yes, perhaps it’s fair for writers such as the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Ron Cook to wonder if the buzzards will begin swarming if Geno doesn’t start putting up bigger numbers.

“I know I’m not scoring,” Malkin said, meeting the question head on. “People are a little bit maybe mad … “

Not yet, they aren’t.

Malkin gets more of a pass in this town than, say, Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who will spend today and Tuesday reading and hearing how he was thoroughly outplayed by Montreal goaltender Jaroslav Halak in the Canadiens’ 3-1 win in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series at Mellon Arena even though his teammates had a couple of bad breakdowns in front of him.

But it will get ugly for Malkin fairly quickly if his scoring drought continues.

I couldn’t help but wonder, then: has Malkin been that weak in the playoffs? Here’s a spreadsheet with his numbers from last year’s playoffs and this year’s output. Click to enlarge.


After the jump, I’ll throw out a few hypotheses for what might be “ailing” Malkin.

tank.jpg(Note: it’s important to keep in mind that I think it’s silly to throw Malkin under the bus. However, there are a few factors that might play into why he’s only putting up great numbers – 9 points in eight games – instead of astronomical numbers.)

1. Ruslan Fedotenko/Alex Ponikarovsky

Both Sidney Crosby and Malkin are probably used to raising the game of mediocre-to-decent wingers, but it seems like that problem is affecting Geno’s numbers to an extent. In 08-09, Malkin was able to adapt to Fedotenko becoming his main playmaking target after Petr Sykora landed in coach Dan Bylsma’s doghouse. Just look at the drop in Fedotenko’s producton; last year he put up 14 points in 24 playoff games and this year he has a goose egg in only 4 games played. Ponikarovsky isn’t exactly living up to his trade deadline hype, either.

2. Opponents

Don’t forget that Malkin boosted his stats against weak defensive opponents last year, feasting on Philadelphia (9 points in 6 GP) and Carolina (9 points in 4 GP) for half of his playoff output. While Montreal and Ottawa are flawed teams, they play tighter defense than most of Geno’s non-Detroit competition from last year.

3. Fatigue?

I don’t like this excuse, but Malkin has played a lot of hockey lately. Perhaps that won’t stop him from being productive, but it could curtail some of his consistency.

Anyway, I must state again that I think it’s silly to complain about 9 points in 8 playoff games. Still, Malkin isn’t a player who affects a game without scoring quite like Crosby, so I can understand the critiques. What do you think? What’s bugging Malkin? Should the Penguins be worried at all?

Julien explains comments about Lundqvist’s ‘acting’

Claude Julien

We’re now over two days removed from last Friday’s tilt between the Bruins and the Rangers, but the coaches from both teams seem unwilling to move on.

Moments after that game, Claude Julien claimed that Henrik Lundqvist did some “acting” on the ice to sell a goalie interference call on Brad Marchand.

On Saturday, Alain Vigneault fired back by saying that Julien needed to get his eyesight checked. Vigneault also compared Aaron Rome’s hit on Nathan Horton in the 2011 Stanley Cup final to Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan in Friday’s game.

Now it was Julien’s turn to address the “issue” at hand.

Julien clarified his original comment about Lundqvist and he also tackled some of Vigneault’s comments.

“I think it’s pretty obvious what I said . . . I thought Lundqvist sold it,” said Julien. “Not for a second did I ever question Henrik Lundqvist as a person, or a goaltender or any of that. We all know how good he is as a goaltender, and I know he’s a good person. I’ve met him at the All-Star games and all that stuff.

Julien on his eyesight: “As far as my eyes, I’m not the one that compared Beleskey’s hit to Aaron Rome’s [hit]. We’ll just leave it at that.”

It’s time for both sides to move on.

Good news: Colaiacovo traveling with Sabres

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It was a scary sight.

Carlo Colaiacovo fell to his hands and knees after taking a cross-check to the throat from Predators forward Viktor Arvidsson (above).

Arvidsson received a five-minute major and a game misconduct, while Colaiacovo suffered a dented trachea on the play.

After the game, both Dan Bylsma and Peter Laviolette agreed that there was no malicious intent on Arvidsson’s part.

“I don’t think there was intent there to maliciously cross-check,” Bylsma said. “They kind of lose the puck, turn and his stick is right at that level and delivers a blow. When you look at it, it’s a pretty stiff cross-check to Carlo’s neck.”

“It was tough for Arvidsson,” said Laviolette. “I don’t think he had any bad intentions. He just ran into somebody and the stick got caught a little bit high, but just a tough turn of events.”

The Sabres defenseman left the game and was treated at a nearby hospital, but there is some good news to report.

According to the Buffalo News, Colaiacovo was released from hospital and he was able to travel to Detroit with his teammates.

It’s unclear how long he’ll be out.

Start the Carr: Habs recall another player from the minors

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There’s been a lot of movement between Montreal and Saint John’s lately and that continued on Sunday.

This time, it’s forward Daniel Carr who’ll be getting a stint with the big club.

Carr has no prior NHL experience.

The 24-year-old spent four years at Union College before joining the Canadiens organization as an undrafted free agent.

In his first season as a pro, Carr scored 24 goals (led the team) and 39 points in 76 AHL games with the Hamilton Bulldogs in 2014-15.

This year, Carr has seven goals and 15 points in 20 games.

Montreal is without forwards Torrey Mitchell, Brendan Gallagher and Alexander Semin.

Campbell’s perfect snipe sinks Wings in OT


Brian Campbell doesn’t score as many points as he used to, but he came up with a huge goal against the Red Wings on Sunday afternoon.

With the game tied, 1-1, in overtime, Campbell skated into the slot and beat Petr Mrazek with a perfect wrister to end the game.

It was also a pretty nice passing play between Jussi Jokinen, Jonathan Huberdeau and Campbell.

Dylan Larkin opened the scoring in the second period before Reilly Smith leveled the score with just over five minutes remaining.

The Wings have blown a lead in three straight games.

Detroit was up 2-0 and 3-2 in their last game, against Edmonton, before they finally closed the game out with an overtime goal by Niklas Kronwall.

They weren’t so fortunate against the Bruins on Wednesday, as they lost 3-2 in OT after leading 2-1 with under two minutes remaining in regulation.

This was the first meeting of the season between Detroit and Florida, but they’ll see each other three times between Feb. 4 and Mar. 19.