Penguins star center Malkin uneasy about NHL Playoff start
UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Evgeni Malkin is uneasy about his play so far this postseason.
He also is the Penguins' leading scorer in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
“I could say it's going good, but (Game 6), like the rest, was probably up and down,” Malkin said after he set up the Penguins' tying and winning goal against the New York Islanders on Saturday night at Nassau Coliseum.
“I'm happy to win, but I can do more, play better.”
Malkin finished the series with 11 points, giving him 19 in his last 12 playoff games. That is a 1.58 per-game average.
He averaged 1.5 points during the 2009 playoffs, which he finished with 36 in 24 games and won the MVP for the Penguins' Cup run.
However, Malkin said he does not feel like he is at his 2009 postseason form or his level from last regular season, when he won the MVP and a second scoring title.
An injured left shoulder that may require offseason surgery has prevented Malkin from practicing most of the last two months.
He has refused to use it as an excuse, but he is equally uncomfortable with a shot that is weakened and the fewer opportunities to fine tune his game.
Teammates believe Malkin's lingering disappointment is actually a good thing because it shows his understanding of what, besides scoring, will help the Penguins win.
They know that scoring part is important, too, though.
“Sometimes you get overwhelmed as a player — and as a young guy, too, you do try to do too much,” right winger Jarome Iginla said.
“The focus is to just do our jobs.”
Malkin's No. 1 job is to create offense, coach Dan Bylsma said.
Still, Malkin lamented his six credited giveaways in the series. He has tried too often to do too much on his own to help the Penguins, especially early in periods and when the contests were tight.
“I don't know, I (am) maybe a little nervous at the start,” Malkin said. “But when I play with the puck (in games), I feel a lot better.”
Malkin said the point during Game 6 when he was least nervous was late, when the favored Penguins trailed by a goal and faced a possible pressure-packed Game 7 that would have been played at Consol Energy Center on Sunday.
His hitch-and-hop move to build momentum before looping behind the Islanders' goal then finding Paul Martin open at the point led to the tying goal — and, winger Pascal Dupuis agreed, it required nerve by Malkin to contemplate, let alone try.
It was a play that, really, only one other player on the Penguins could have pulled off.
“I think we both know that's our job in those situations,” Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. “We feel that responsibility to make plays for our team.”
Malkin half-smiled and tilted his head to the left.
Iginla said the shared sense of responsibility that Malkin and Crosby feel to elevate the Penguins in their moments of need is not easily relatable for people who have not been considered a franchise player.
Iginla was that player for at least a dozen of his 16 years with Calgary, where he was captain before joining the Penguins in a March trade.
“We all put pressure on ourselves to perform and be at our best and help,” Iginla said. “But at the same time, there's a little bit less pressure for me here because you look over and it's shared by Sid and Geno.”
Rob Rossi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @RobRossi_Trib.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Q&A: New coach Johnston feeling at home with Penguins
- Penguins sign Despres to 2-year deal
- Penguins top prospect Pouliot eyes quick recovery from surgery
- Despite management change, familiarity reigns for Penguins prospects
- Recchi rejoins Pens, this time as a coach