Monday, March 23, 2009

The Red-Headed Step Child of the NHL: Evgeni Malkin

We know we've been slacking around here lately, our usual preview/recap posts have gone by the wayside as we focus on other stuff. Oh well.

But I want to take this time to talk about the "other" best player in the league: Evgeni Malkin. Everyone talks Crosby - Ovechkin until their eyes bleed, usually I just get a pounding headache. I guess that's just because of Crosby the anti-hero, and Ovechkin the anti-hero, are complete antitheses of each other. All the while the reserved, laid-back Malkin simply continues to play, put up points, and some will say, lead the Penguins resurgence (I tend to disagree, but that's here nor there, oh wait, it is down there).
I will Post this picture whenever I get the chance

I'm glad it takes a guy, who's been relegated to the press box the last couple weeks with an injury to point this out. My friend (make believe) Ryan Miller told James Duthie over at TSN this...
"He is overshadowed and I can never understand why," says Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller, who ranks Malkin among the most dangerous players he has ever faced. "People always seem to just gravitate towards one or two players in a sport. Malkin is like Dwayne Wade this year in the NBA, having an amazing season but everybody just talks about Kobe and LeBron."
Now this is as much the NHL's and media's fault for,, forcing only these 2 players down our throats, but let's try to change that. It's always been professional sport's modus operandi to key in on a couple guys and market them to the world, but it only seems like the NHL and NBA key on a few players. The MLB and NFL have multitudes of faces, personalities and squads that resonate across the globe, so they don't really apply here.

But look at the NBA, as a hockey fan can you name anyone outside Lebron, Kobe, Shaq, or Yao Ming? Probably not. As a basketball fan could you name anyone outside...Sidney Crosby or Alex Ovechkin? Probably not.
Undoubtably, this will be a dialogue sometime soon.

Now back to the matter at hand, Evgeni Malkin has arguably been the MVP of the league this year, consistently putting up numbers with a rag tag bunch of wingers assembled by Ray Shero. He won't win though, but why not?

Well his team, outside of the last 2 weeks was mired outside the top 8, and their resurgence simply won't be attributed to Malkin. While he's played every game of the season, their turnaround coincided with the return of Crosby and Gonchar's from injury, Therrien's long awaited dismissal, and the arrival of Chris Kunitz on the top line. It's like a perfect storm for Pittsburgh, minus Mark Wahlberg. So once again, Evgeni Malkin's play will be overlooked. Travesty? Maybe, maybe not.

So Evgeni, at least BanginPanger, Ryan Miller, Penguin's Fanboys united, and probably the rest of the NHL Players Association, give you the respect you deserve, even if the hardware doesn't come along with it. My guess is he ends up with the Art Ross, and hopefully, the Lester B. Pearson, but if he doesn't, he'll still be the least heralded superstar this league has seen since...Jari Kurri?


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Fact: BanginPanger is not meant as an insult to the one and only Darren Pang, nor do I claim to be him. The views and opinions presented on BanginPanger are of my own, and no other namesake of the site, the NHL, Buffalo Sabres, Washington Capitals, or anyone else.