Is this Evgeni Malkin’s best work yet?
Evgeni Malkin is one of the league’s most irresistible forces right now - even back-to-back games can’t slow him down for good.
After scoring the last two goals in the Pittsburgh Penguins’ big win against the New York Rangers on Thursday, Geno erupted in the third period to help his team overcome a 4-2 deficit against the Montreal Canadiens. Malkin scored the game-tying goal on a laser beam of a shot and then collected the shootout winner as Pittsburgh topped the Habs 5-4 (SO).
Tonight’s goal ups Malkin’s league-leading points total to 55, which is especially impressive because he’s played in just 40 games. (Current runner-up Henrik Sedin has 52 points in 47 contests.) You can break up Geno’s recent work into scary-good chunks, but I’d say going back to Nov. 20 is a solid idea:
Malkin in the last 27 games: 20 goals, 21 assists for 41 points with a +10 rating and 132 shots on goal. Most recently, Malkin has eight goals and 10 points in his last six contests.
That’s some ridiculous stuff, prompting onlookers to boast about his swagger and forcing me to wonder: where does this rank with the gifted center’s all-time best work?
I asked folks on Twitter how “2011-12 Malkin compares to Art Ross Malkin” and those who responded ranked his best runs in an interesting way.
1. “Conn Smythe Malkin.”
2. “Current Malkin.”
3. “Art Ross Malkin.”
Malkin earned the Art Ross and Conn Smythe in the same world-beating 2008-09 season, but for the sake of fun, let’s look at those “three Malkins” through the simplest of stats.
“Current Malkin": 40 Games Played: 25 goals, 30 assists for 55 points (1.375 per game)
“Art Ross Malkin": 82 GP: 35 goals, 78 assists for 113 points (1.378 per game)
“Conn Smythe Malkin": 24 GP: 14 goals, 22 assists for 36 points (1.5 points per game)
Seriously, Malkin scored 1.5 points per game in the playoffs that year.
Looking at the numbers, it’s clear that Malkin is approaching the level that some worried he’d never reach again after he struggled a bit with fatigue and injuries 2009-10 and 2010-11. Then again, context - minus Sidney Crosby, plus James Neal - could prompt some to believe that he’s at a new level of excellence.
However his work stacks up to his greatest hits, most hockey fans have been delighted to watch Malkin return to his superhuman form of old - unless he’s rumbling down the ice against their own team.