Key Observations Heading Into Game 10 Between the Penguins and Sabres

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By: Casey Johnston (@DarthHockey)

Evgeni Malkin is really good at hockey.  This should go without saying but for some this is still a matter of debate.  No matter how many goals he scores or how many assists he racks up, Evgeni Malkin will never be good enough for some people.  Malkin will always be the one to blame for that goal that the opposition scored when he was on the ice or for the goal that the Penguins didn’t score at a crucial moment.  However, let’s look at the facts.

Malkin has started off this season with a nine-game point streak.  That is a point in every game so far.  In that span he has 12 points (4g-9a).  For the Penguins, only Patric Hornqvist has matched that output and only Sidney Crosby has exceeded it.  Neither of them is riding the point streak that Malkin is.

Malkin is driving possession for his team with a 52.1% Corsi.  The Penguins have scored 55.6% of goals when Malkin is on the ice.  As impressive as that is keep in mind that Malkin has spent a significant amount of minutes playing wing and not his natural center position.  His center to start the season was Brandon Sutter, not exactly an offensive juggernaut, but still a center who managed a whopping 61.8% Corsi with Malkin.  Even more impressive is the fact that Malkin’s offensive output is mostly coming at even strength.  Despite losing James Neal and Jussi Jokinen, and not playing with Hornqvist, eight of Malkin’s 12 points have come at even strength.

Bash Evgeni Malkin all you want, but understand that you’re nitpicking his game and focusing on minimal negative aspects at the expense of missing an incredible performance by one of the greatest players in the world.  That’s your loss.