Malkin-g A Big Impression
The NHL.com-esk headline is only deserving for the Pens as their highlights dominated the webpage this weekend. After a few back and forth games that featured tw big divisional wins and pathetic loss, the Pens put together two dominant home performances.
In two games this weekend the Pittsburgh Penguins managed to put up 12 goals and allowed just three. Evgeni Malkin, the league’s leading point scorer, had 4 goals and an assist in the two games, giving him 78 points on the season. The stats, while impressive, do not tell the entire story.
Heading into Saturday’s matchup with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Steven Stamkos and Malkin both had 73 points; however, Stamkos had a whopping 43 goals. Of those 43 goals, none were scored against Pittsburgh. The Penguins might be the only team in the East that has been able to hold off Stamkos in all four games. After a few lucky bounces for the Penguins, the Lightning found themselves down by a score of four to nothing, leaving in struggling goaltender Dwayne Roloson. Roloson would soon make a big mistake. The goaltender decided to leap fists first into the face of an already down Malkin. At this point, Roli the goalie poked the sleeping bear.
Malkin spent the next period and a half tormenting Roloson. His first goal was a sharp angled blast that was followed up with an icy stare and a quick shout out to where the puck went in. Then, in the third period, Geno went coast to coast for what might be the goal of the year. He would finish with a total of three goals and one assist.
Shortly after the massive win against the Lightning, it became clear that this team was ready for the playoffs, but after three emotional victories over the past few weeks, the Pens have come up short. In their game against the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Penguins finally came through.
In his first ever NHL start, Brad Thiessen allowed 2 goals on 22 shots, one coming off the stick of Rick Nash. The Pens would rattle off a few goals before it became evident that Columbus was done. The game was surprisingly intense as the Blue Jackets fought hard up until the very end. Malkin, Letang, Vitale, and Dupuis would score for Pittsburgh.
While Malkin has easily stolen the show for the Pens this weekend, there are three guys who have held this team together over the past ten games. Jordan Staal put together a 2 goal, 2 assist weekend; meaning that Staal now has 6 goals and 4 assists since his return just 8 games ago. He has broken the 20 goal mark for the 4th time in his career, but more impressively has done it in just half a season this year. Matt Cooke now has 27 points, 12 goals and 15 assists, but to everyone shock only has 26 penalty minutes. His superb discipline this season has made him more effective and in result has seen his ice time go up as of recent. Lastly is the play of Pascal Dupuis. The penalty killer, winger/center has finally picked up the scoring. Now with 36 points, Dupuis is just two away from topping his best ever as a penguins and is just 12 points away from tying his career high. He has found himself on a line with Staal and Sullivan recently and is very likely to stay there until Sidney Crosby can return.
On Crosby – At this point in time Crosby is participating in full practices sans contact. His speed and stamina are finally back up and it looks like if cleared today, could be back within three weeks, but with no signs of a medical clearance in sight, we can only take solace in the fact that he is practicing full time.
On the Trade Deadline – With the recent mixing and matching of the defensive pairs, the Penguins have been able to showcase some great match ups. This is allowing the pens to sit idle on the deadline and will most likely only make a move for depth, if they make a move at all.