Blog Entry

Malkin looks strong in return

Posted on: September 21, 2011 10:42 pm
Edited on: September 21, 2011 10:45 pm
 


By: Adam Gretz


PITTSBURGH -- Playing for the first time since tearing his ACL last January, Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin returned to the lineup on Wednesday night during Pittsburgh's preseason opener and looked to be the best player on the ice every single time he stepped on it.

Malkin, who missed the last half of the 2010-11 season, and all of the playoffs, scored a goal and added an assist in the Penguins' 3-2 win against the Detroit Red Wings. More than the actual numbers, Malkin just simply appeared to be on another level than everybody else, which has to be a positive sign for the Penguins seeing as how Sidney Crosby's availability is still unknown at this point as he continues to recover from a concussion.

With Malkin and Crosby out of the lineup last season the Penguins offense dropped significantly in the second half of the season, and was pretty much nonexistent in the playoffs when they lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning in seven games in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. Until Crosby returns, Malkin is going to have to be the go-to-guy offensively for the Penguins, something he's proven to be more than capable of in the past (think back to the 2007-08 season when Crosby missed over 20 games with an ankle injury, and how Malkin pretty much became one of the two or three best players in the league).

Of course, it's important to keep everything in its proper perspective and remember that this was simply the first game of the preseason against what was, outside of Pavel Datsyuk -- who was by far Detroit's best player on the night -- and a handful of other regulars, the Red Wings minor leaguers. Still, Malkin was the type of force at both ends of the ice that he was during the 2008-09 season when he won the Art Ross and Conn Smythe Trophies, creating turnovers on the forecheck and dangling his way through the Red Wings defense.  

After recording an assist on the Penguins first goal, which was scored by Chris Kunitz, Malkin picked up his first goal of the preseason when he blew past Red Wings defenseman Garnet Exelby (video above) and bounced a shot in off of goaltender Jimmy Howard.

Howard had a rough night in the crease for the Wings as all three of three of the goals that he surrendered seemed to bounce off of him on their way into the net. Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock was especially upset with the third goal he allowed, a power play tally from Matt Niskanen, which trickled through Howard after he initially appeared to make the stop.

The Penguins seemed to tilt the ice on Detroit a bit in the second period, outshooting them by a 14-7 margin.

"We had tons of chances," said Babcock "I thought they had a few more shots go in the net. I thought we had lots of opportunities tonight. They had a better second period and I thought Malkin was real good, but they scored one on the power play, which I didn't like. Shouldn't have went in."

Howard played the first two periods, stopping 17 of the 20 shots he faced.

After Malkin, the second best player on the ice was clearly Datsyuk as he picked up an assist on both Detroit goals, including a nifty saucer pass to set up Jiri Hudler for the Red Wings' second goal of the game.

"He made some things happen tonight," said Babcock regarding Datsyuk's play. "Just like Malkin, they were better than anybody else tonight, so they're fun guys to watch."

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Comments
kkjyywlpo
Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 15, 2011 7:55 pm
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Since: Mar 24, 2008
Posted on: September 22, 2011 5:35 pm
 

Malkin looks strong in return

Grant it, it was one game, but Malkin was up to his old tricks again... he of course did his typical dangle the puck though 3-4 Wings... and turn it over, but his speed and power were on full display... his goal was a thing of beauty, leading with the left leg to fend off Kronwall if I am not mistaken only to deke and flip it over Howard... it was a Genoesque Goal...

It was great to see 71 out on the ice after a terrible knee injury...

Pens fans --- How about Morrow??? this guy looked smooth out there... both offensively and defensively... looked pretty good for an 18 year old!!!

 



Since: Feb 28, 2011
Posted on: September 22, 2011 9:17 am
 

Malkin looks strong in return

Blueline82,

Yeah, it was a few Pittsburgh fans it seemed. Overall, I thought the top line (which was Kunitz-Malkin-Neal) looked really good. Neal had himself in some good spots at different times it seemed, but wasn't been able to finish. I don't think he was bad by any means, but they brought him in to score.



Since: Sep 22, 2011
Posted on: September 22, 2011 1:37 am
 

Malkin looks strong in return

You said on twitter that a few folks were giving it to Nealer--Detroit fans or Pittsburgh? How would you rate his game, keeping in mind it was the first preseason game?



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