Sunday, 5 June 2016

Should Anyone Worry?

It's quite telling that Joonas Donskoi scored in overtime with the two Penguins players who didn't record a blocked shot standing in front of him. While Matt Murray admitted to having a bad game, there has to be some concern about #71. Evgeni Malkin has been invisible since this series started, and his poor defensive effort on Donskoi allowed the Sharks rookie to get the room he needed to get out front and fire off the game-winning shot. Is he injured? Is he unhappy with his ice-time and/or linemates? What is plaguing Evgeni Malkin, and should the Penguins and their fans be worried?

Malkin has been saying all the right things as the Crosby and HBK lines are doing their things. The Penguins would love to roll three scoring lines, but the Malkin line just hasn't been productive through the first three games of the Stanley Cup Final. Having a producing Malkin would give the Sharks all kinds of fits, and it would allow more flexibility in the Penguins' line-up as Malkin could be moved on and off Crosby's line when needed.

That being said, I give full credit to the San Jose Sharks in keeping Malkin silent thus far. Joe Thornton battled Malkin hard in the first two games in Pittsburgh, and the rotating match-ups that head coach Pete DeBoer used in Game Three was effective in giving Malkin different looks all night. For a guy who thrives on finding a player's flaws and exploiting them, Malkin was unable to focus on one player with multiple players facing off against him.

Eight shots is all that Malkin has mustered for offence in this series thus far. It is said that if one is not doing well in one particular area of the game, one needs to step up the other facets of one's game. Malkin, though, isn't doing that either. Defensively, he's been average. Physically, he's been alright. Effort-wise, he seems capable, but something isn't clicking.

Maybe it simply is that that Sharks have a game plan for big #71? Maybe they have Malkin at a place where his wheels are spinning and he can't seem to get going? Whatever the case may be - whether it's something San Jose is doing or something effecting Malkin - the Penguins would love for him to catch fire in the remaining games.

Without him, Pittsburgh is up 2-1. With him, this series might be 3-0 and already over.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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