Malkin in the Middle
With Sidney Crosby sidelined with an ankle injury on January 18th, many expected the Penguins would go into a major tailspin. Nothing could be further from the truth. They haven’t just stayed afloat in his abscence, they’ve thrived. Their record since the injury is 5-2-2 as they sit on top of the Atlantic Division with 67 points. In fact, they are tied with Montreal for the second most points in the Eastern Conference behind Ottawa’s 72.
The reason for the hot streak? Obviously the whole team stepped up, but none more than Evgeni Malkin. Malkin has been on fire netting seven goals while handing out ten assists. That’s an average of 1.89 points per game. In his first 46 games he was averaging 1.13 points. This spurt has helped Malkin climb the NHL scoring ranks to a tie for fifth place with 69 points, which puts him four behind Alexander Ovechkin and Daniel Alfredsson’s league-best 73 points. He’s equally as good at setting up teammates as finishing. In fact, he’s one of five players in the league with 30+ points and 30+ assists.
This isn’t to suggest that Pittsburgh does miss Crosby. Nor does it suggest that they can continue to excel without him. Sid the Kid is a remarkable player. So is Malkin. NHL fans already knew that. The rest of the world is catching on.