Friday, February 22, 2008

No, But Seriously...

...when do WE start chanting Malkni's name or "M-V-P!" at Pens games? Maybe that has already happened at Pens games and I haven't been notified, but regardless, you all know the stats. 24 points in 10 games. First to reach 80 points. Getting the best-player-right-now-in-the-NHL nod from Barry Melrose. Evgeni Malkin, it would appear, has arrived.

Who knows if it will last, or if Malkin will be able to maintain his ethereal play when the bruising, battering style of playoff hockey comes calling. But for right now, watching him is simply a joy. I've heard from numerous people that is looks like he gallops when he skates, and I can't think of a better way to put it. His shoulders shrug up, his skates chop forward, and somehow his hands control the puck amongst all the physical madness. Every rush to the net feels possible. It's like a LeBron James drive to the hoop.

The numbers will change over the next few weeks, and numerous stats can be used to justify claims in many directions, but just take a quick glance at these stats...

Malkin: Points 79 (82 after tonight); Average Time on Ice 20:48; Shots 198
Ovechkin: Points 78; Average Time on Ice 23:05; Shots 328
Lecavlier: Points 77; Average Time on Ice 23:08; Shots 233

If there was a John Hollinger out there for the NHL (and there very well may be a stats cruncher like ESPN has with the Hollinger and the NBA), I'm pretty sure that these numers could be worked into an efficiency rating like Hollinger has for NBA players. Malkin is playing less, taking far fewer shots, and getting essentially the same production. Yes, other factors are at play, but you certainly can't say that he is palying with better players right now. Semin, Kozlov, and Backstrom are all playing well, and St. Louis is still better than anyone that Malkin plays with.

All MVP talk aside, a strange, bizarre, huge win for the Pens tonight. Montreal is going to be there down the stretch, just like pretty much everyone else in the Eastern Conference. Oh, and make sure to take a look at the Eastern Conference standings tomorrow. The Sans-Crosby Penguins...who woulda thought.


Anonymous said...

Imagine when Crosby comes back. Hopefully the wingers he plays with can step up, because there is no way they can separate Malone-Malkin-Sykora.

It was a huge deal when Mario and Gretzky played together on Team Canada. We're lucky enough to have the Mario and Gretzky of this generation on the same freakin' team. Appreciate it.

Anonymous said...

Everyone has been talking about Shero NOT making big moves, but I tend to think he's bluffing...

Ray is not going to break up Malkin's line, so he needs someone to put with Sid. Gary and Colby were productive when they played on his line last year, however, I think Ray likes the idea of Roberts-Staal-Armstrong as a quick, yet powerful third line.

I also tend to think that Shero wants guys that will be around for awhile to play with Sid. I think he has 2 thoughts in mind.

1.) Use Tyler Kennedy on the first line. (It would complete the cycle from NHL YoungStar, to banishment in purgatory of the AHL, to top-line winger with Sid.) That would be crazy and unlikely.

2.) MORE LIKELY: Sid has been hurt, so he has had all the time in the world to scout other teams. I think somewhere in the past 2 weeks, Ray has asked Sid for a list of guys he would like to play with. I really beleive that when Sid returns, he will be on a line with not one, but two players who aren't even on the team right now. Expect these guys to be young, and possibly off the third/ fourth line of other teams. Since they would be hand selected by 87 himself, expect their production from wherever they are playing to go way up. I mean the Penguins are not going to get WORSE when Sid returns, regardless of what happens at the deadline.

In my mind, this is the way to go. The Pens are doing fine without The Kid right now, so they can afford to take a chance on young wingers. If it doesn't work out, they will have free agency and a deep farm system for next year. Look for Orpik, Christiansen, and a few mid-round picks to be the guys that allow this to happen.

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