The Pittsburgh Penguins have not started the season as many anticipated. After an offseason of change that included Phil Kessel coming to Pittsburgh, many thought the team would come out flying and scoring a lot of goals. However, through five games, the team has a combined seven goals scored.
It’s a much different style of hockey that the Penguins have been playing. They’re usually an offensive force with questionable defense in their own zone. But despite only scoring seven goals, they have only allowed nine against.
After starting the season with zero points in two games, superstar center Evgeni Malkin has looked inspired. He has scored two goals in their last two games and unsurprisingly, the Penguins won both contests.
Malkin has a reputation of being a streaky player and to some extent that is true. He usually plays his best hockey when captain Sidney Crosby either is not playing or is in a slump. Malkin puts the weight of the team on his shoulders and it seems that he is about to do that again. Just take a look at one of his goals he scored.
Malkin created his own offense in that play and it’s what makes him such a special player. When he is playing his best, I’d argue that Malkin, not Crosby, is the top player in the NHL. However, as we’ve seen Crosby is by far more consistent as a player and it’s ironic to discuss this while he is in the worst slump of his career.
Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury had some high praise for Malkin’s recent play and he knows better than most what he can bring to the ice.
He was like that last game, too. He wants the puck. You could see it. He wanted the puck tonight, and he was the one who got us going tonight. He made hard plays, and the great plays. He was pretty much just skating through people tonight, like he does
This is why the Penguins might actually be a legitimate threat to win the Stanley Cup this season. As of right now they’re far from it, but as the season progresses the team will improve. They have eight new forwards within their lineup and the team has looked out of sync numerous times.
But that is the beauty of the 2015-16 Penguins. They have enough talented players that if one falters, like Crosby currently is, another one can pick up some of the slack. Malkin is at his best when he is inspired and it seems that he might be right now.
It’s only a matter of time before this team gets rolling, but for now it seems that Malkin is looking to regain his Art Ross winning form.
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Michael Pityk is an analyst who has written for numerous sites since beginning his professional career. He’s acted as a credentialed member of the media for the Philadelphia Phillies, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Pirates and the Pittsburgh Penguins. His work has been featured in Sports Illustrated, The Sports Journal, MSN, PensLabyrinth, Montreal Hockey Talk, ESPN Pittsburgh, The Hockey Writers, Todays SlapShot and The Bleacher Report. He formerly was the editor of Pens Labyrinth and an analyst for The Sports Journal. Michael presently acts as an NHL Analyst for The Hockey Writers