When Evgeni Malkin is playing on top of his game he can make a pretty convincing argument for being the best and most dominant player in the league. He can be an unstoppable force with the puck. He has ridiculous pure talent that makes highlight reel players look effortless. He can take over games and single-handedly carry his team to a win.
Right now he is playing at that kind of level, and it seems that it is very much going under the radar.
He and his Pittsburgh Penguins teammates won their fourth consecutive game (as part of a four-game Canadian road trip) on Saturday night with a 5-0 victory in Vancouver. It was a road trip that saw the team go 4-0-0 and outscore the Toronto Maple Leafs, Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames and Canucks by a 23-6 margin. Other than the game in Edmonton, which was a wild back-and-forth game, none of the games were particularly competitive.
Overall, pretty dominant stuff. Malkin has been particularly dominant and continued his incredible start with two more goals (less than a minute apart in the third period) and an assist on Saturday.
The thing about that place in the early season scoring race is MacKinnon and Rantanen have both played three more games than Malkin, who is still sitting on nine games for the season.
That is a 2.00 point-per-game average, which is crazy average to maintain over any nine-game stretch in the NHL.
After Saturday’s performance Malkin now has…
- At least one point in eight of his nine games, including each of the past seven
- Six multi-point games, tied for the second in the league with Patrice Bergeron (who has played in two more games) and only one behind Auston Matthews (who has played in two more games
- Four three-point games, which is most in the NHL. Again, in only nine games.
So much of the focus around the NHL this season has been on Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews, the top lines in Boston and Colorado … and then there’s Malkin, once again, right there at the top of the list with them and just absolutely cruising along.
This shouldn’t be that much of a surprise though, and it might explain why it doesn’t get much attention … because we have come to expect this type of performance from Malkin. Keep in mind he has been in the top-four in points per game in each of the past two years (fourth in 2016-17 and then third in 2017-18), has been second to only teammate Sidney Crosby over the duration of his career, and looks like he is well on his way to being among that elite group once again this season.
He has been one of the most dominant players of his era, and while a lot of his peers that entered the league around the same time he did are showing some signs of their point production dropping off a bit, his does not seem to be slowing down much at all.