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Star center Malkin 'glad' to be back on ice with Penguins after Olympics

| Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, 7:24 p.m.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Penguins center Evgeni Malkin practices Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014 at Consol Energy Center.

Evgeni Malkin did not do much at the Winter Olympics.

He played hockey, dined with his parents, attended a few figure skating events and watched on TV as some Russians won medals.

“I'm glad to come back (and) see the guys,” Malkin said Wednesday after his second post-Olympics practice with the Penguins at Consol Energy Center. “They help me a lot.”

Malkin conceded he was not completely over Team Russia's failure to medal in men's ice hockey at the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. He revealed few details about his Olympics experience, which friends and Penguins teammates were told was not enjoyable.

Not helping Russia to its first hockey gold medal is at the center of Malkin's disappointment.

“I remember (at the 2010 Vancouver Games) we lost, and now it's more worse (because) we played at home,” Malkin said. “Of course it's tough. (I) need a little bit more time.”

Malkin returned to practice Tuesday and met with Penguins coach Dan Bylsma. No stranger to Olympic disappointment after Team USA failed to medal, Bylsma spoke to Malkin about their respective needs to refocus on trying to win the Stanley Cup that has eluded the Penguins since 2009.

Malkin led that postseason in scoring and was named playoff MVP.

He appears to be inspired by Russia's failure in Sochi, Penguins teammates said.

“I think he'll only be down a couple of days,” right winger James Neal said of his regular center. “He looks angry more than anything.

“Geno came back upset, obviously. He also looks confident, and we've seen what he can do when he's feeling confident.”

Malkin began the NHL season with only 10 points in his opening 13 games. He has produced 48 points in his past 34 games — a 1.41 points-per-game pace that is not far off his MVP 2011-12 season ratio (1.45).

Malkin had looked forward to playing for Russia at the Games. However, he finished with only a goal and two assists, no points in the final four games, and his third Olympics ended without a medal.

Malkin and fellow Russian star Alex Ovechkin took issue with their national club's roster composition, coaching and how they were used. Both felt there was a divide between Russians in the NHL and that country's Kontinental Hockey League.

Malkin took a diplomatic approach to Russia's problems Wednesday.

“I know everyone on (the) team played hard, 100 percent,” Malkin said. “We just (did) not play together.”

Rob Rossi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at rrossi@tribweb.com or via Twitter @RobRossi_Trib.

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