With star Sidney Crosby out for an extended period of time with a high ankle sparin, Evgeni Malkin has stolen the spotlight and has helped the injury plagued Penguins keep pace in a tight Atlantic Division race.
Since Crosby went down with his injury on January 18th, the Penguins are 5-2-2 in their 9 games, earning 12 out of 18 possible points. Malkin has 7 goals, 10 assists for 17 points over that 9 game span. That's an average of almost 2 points per game. Today's game marked his fourth consecutive multipoint game. Malkin now has 69 points on the season, 6 ahead of Crosby and 4 behind league leader Alexander Ovechkin.
The Crosby injurt has actually been a positive for these Penguins, as it enabled Malkin to move back to Center (the position he is most comfortable with) and it enabled Malkin to again be the star of a team. With Crosby going down, his Penguin teamates have all raised their game to make up for the loss of production.
Malkin might be the Penguins MVP if the season ended today. Malkin has 30 goals (3 shy of last years rookie season total) and leads the Penguins in goals and points. More importantly, he seems to be playing his best hockey when the Penguins need him the most.
The Pens are 14-3-3 in their last 20 and are 8-1 against the Western Conference. On deck for the Penguins is home against Philadelphia tomorrow at 1pm. The Pens are 0-4-0 this year against the Flyers after going 8-0 against them last year.