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Pens-Bs Postgame: Malkin is MVP; Dupuis’ just rewards

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PENGUINS 6, BRUINS 5 (OT)

The Trib’s Terrific Trio:

1 – C EVGENI MALKIN, PENGUINS

Key stats: 3 assists, plus-3 rating, 5 attempted shots

Rossi: I’ll touch on this more below; but let nobody ever argue again he can’t win the Hart Trophy because there is no way to differentiate between him and C Sidney Crosby.

2 – LW PASCAL DUPUIS, PENGUINS

Key stats: 2 goals, 5 attempted shots

Rossi: ‘Duper’  has been the Penguins best forward for about three weeks.

3 – C SIDNEY CROSBY, PENGUINS

Key stats: 1 goal, 3 points, 5 attempted shots

Rossi: I don’t hold his three assists in seven games without Malkin against him, especially when every player I spoke with during Crosby’s slump came to his defense – including Malkin, who lauded Crosby’s leadership. From what I can tell, this Penguins team is more his than any during his three years as captain.

SAY IT, SIR

“It was a big moment for me. I thank my teammates because they help me and support me on ice.”

Malkin, after his three-point return from missing seven games because of a strained right shoulder

Rossi: The Penguins are 11-2-0 in games with Malkin and Crosby in the lineup.

GENO 4 MVP

Malkin topped my Hart Trophy ballot last season. Crosby was second. My argument: They were the two most valuable players on a team that finished fourth in the East. Malkin and Crosby finished first and third respectively in scoring on a team he’s third-leading scorer, LW Chris Kunitz, had 53 points, but only 18 in 20 games with the Penguins. C Jordan Staal was third on the Penguins in scoring among players that spent the entire season with the club. Staal finished with 49 points. According to Elias Sports Bureau, the difference between the Penguins’ second and third leading scorers last season was the second-largest total in NHL history.

The Hart Trophy is awarded to the player judged as most valuable to his team by select voting members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association. Many of my colleagues, all of whom I respect greatly, contended that neither Malkin nor Crosby could be “most valuable” because each had the other to rely upon.

I’ve long thought that argument was a poor one, and that Malkin would need an injury that forced him to miss significant time for people outside of Pittsburgh to realize his value to the Penguins.

Check this out: The Penguins went 2-5-0 in games Malkin missed with a strained right shoulder. They scored 11 goals over that span. Crosby recorded only three assists.

In 13 games with Malkin this season, the Penguins have scored 38 goals, and Crosby has posted 10 goals and 17 points.

Malkin’s output the last two years in 36 games missed by Crosby: 22 goals and 54 points.

ON THE BEAT ROAD: PASCAL DUPUIS

No Penguins player has been more impressive to me this season that Dupuis, who was challenged by Bylsma after last season and arrived at training camp looking fitter than ever — but more important with a spot-on attitude.

Dupuis told me during camp that he was not happy with himself last season. He didn’t just mean failing to score a goal or record a point in the playoffs. Admittedly, he’d allowed his struggles to mess with his head, and that, he stressed to me, was very unlike him.

He pledged to be better. He’s delivered.

Dupuis has five goals after a two-goal game against Boston, putting him on track for a 20-goal season. That would be a nice rebound from back-to-back 12-goal seasons.

I remember speaking with a media colleague about a month back about Dupuis. During that conversation I challenged this colleague to look up Dupuis’ career stats. He did, and was surprised to learn that Dupuis has averaged 13 goals over seven seasons in which he played at least 50 games.

So, this theory by some Penguins fans that Dupuis isn’t very good — well, that theory isn’t very good. He is a tenacious penalty killer with some offensive punch; a guy that on a great team, which the Penguins are when healthy, is a valued commodity because he can play anywhere in the lineup and is unselfish.

I shortchanged Dupuis in my game story, so allow me to pass along this quote from Mr. 100.

“A game-winner in overtime… I’ll take it. You can tell me what I did out there because I don’t know what happened.”

Here is what happened: ‘Duper’ got his just rewards for being the Penguins’ best forward the past three weeks.

YINZ TELL US: Thoughts and questions are always welcome. Send emails to hockeyday@tribweb.com. Emails without writers’ full name and current hometown will not be read.

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Author: Rob Rossi

Rob Rossi is the lead sports columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has been called many names, but “Rossi” is the one to which he most often responds. He joined the Trib in November 2002 and was promoted to the columnist role in July 2014. Previously, he had covered the NHL’s Penguins (2006-14) and MLB’s Pirates (2006), while also working on beats associated with the NFL’s Steelers (2005-06) and the NCAA’s Pitt (2004-06). He has won national and local awards for his coverage of youth concussions and athletes’ charities. Also, he is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association executive committee and the Pittsburgh chapter chair. Raised in Crafton and Green Tree and a graduate of West Virginia University, he has covered a Super Bowl, All-Star Games in baseball and hockey, the NCAA basketball tournament and over 100 Stanley Cup playoff games, including the Cup Final twice. Oh, and his sports reporting has led him to brief chats with Mick Jagger and Bruce Springsteen; so that’s pretty cool. He is a regular contributor on TV with WPXI, Root Sports Pittsburgh and TSN. Also, he is the authorized biographer of Penguins star Evgeni Malkin.

Comments

  1. sportsfan91 says:

    Rob.
    I think you are a bit overcome. True, Crosby had a drought that coincided with over half the penguin team either out of the line up, playing with injuries or in slumps themselves. This allowed opposing teams to focus full attention on Crosby as he was getting no help. Crosby’s overall play remained high, getting chances, and setting up players for assists. Malkin has never faced playing on the team with Crosby and half the best players out!!!! If you follow the blogs of other teams (i.e. the Bruins) they constantly commented about many of the plays resulting in goals originating with Crosby (not Malkin). In contrast, the Trib’s articles seem biased toward Malkin, omitting the mention of Crosby’s role. Both Geno and Crosby are great players. Quit trying to create an unhealthly competition between the two teammates, and focus on giving credit to the dynamic duo and appreciate how they are able to split defenders and both contribute to Penguin’s wins.

  2. sportsfan87 says:

    I find Rossi’s comments very biased and distasteful. Sidney Crosby was everywhere tonight…and was key to setting up many of the plays that resulted in goals…just as he has generated chances in each of the past games, and dished some great setups for teammates that that they could not score on. When Crosby was out of the lineup and Malkin was in during the high ankle sprain, Malkin was playing with gifted players like Recchi, Malone, armstrong, Whitney, etc…who could score…more than half the team starters were not out with injuries, playing with injuries, or going through significant slumps themselves. (Which is why Bylsma had to put them together…so they could spark each other, as there were few other players on their game). Crosby carried the Pens thru the Philly and Washington playoff series. Malkin carried them through the Carolina series…and they both were shut down during the Redwing games….Crosby moreso, because he drew the special attention of the front pairing…but the effort from the Redwings to keep him contained allowed the roleplayers to thrive. Appreciate that the Penguins have two extremely gifted players, and that they are TEAMMATES…who play for the logo on the front, not the name on the back of their jersey. And stop trying to instigate a rift by misrepresenting one players contribution.

  3. stamkofan91 says:

    MVP? after 1 game? Please….Malkin and Crosby were both great against the Bruins. However, Malkin was hardly a factor in the game against the Ducks…Crosby had an assist, won more than 50% of the faceoffs and had 4 hits!!!! While Malkin was out everyone keyed in on the fact that the Powerplay was woeful with Malkin out… The powerplay was woeful before Malkin was out… Maybe Gonch should be nominated for MVP?? The primary issue with Crosby’s game is the lack of assists. However, this is largely due to the lack of wingers. Both Kunitz and Guerin have been in droughts. That’s why they call them assists…because the center sets up the play and the wingers finish with the goal!!! or not. The Penguin’s press and team announcers are perplexing. I have never heard the press covering other NHL teams constantly compare teammates and belittle one player to try to make another look good or discuss which is most critical/liked/important to the team. For example Chicago Blackhawks (Toews/Kane/Hossa) Redwings (Zetterburg/Datsyuk). The Penguins are in a unique position of having two exceptionally players. BOTH are critical to the success of the team. The opponent is the visiting team, not the two teammates.

    I have started watching opposing team feeds of the games to avoid the bias. It is amazing how the opposing teams announcers and bloggers credit Crosby and Malkin both with exceptional play.

  4. Allie says:

    Man, you know what? I really feel bad for Sid. It seems like every time he has a chance to silence the haters and “prove” himself, something goes wrong. First of all, I’m not naive enough to think that one day everyone will love him or, at least, respect him; two, you tell me what in the hell does he have to prove?

    Crosby goes down and Malkin definitely steps up (don’t get me wrong), but what other injuries did the Pens have at that time? If I recall, Fleury was out as well, but you also may recall two words: Ty Conklin. Malkin goes down and a third of the lineup goes with him. Your judgement of Crosby when Malkin was down versus the vice versa is just totally unfair. It seems like the perception of him, throughout his career has gone like this: one step forward, 2 steps back. He leads his team to the SCF’s, steps up big time and no one else, including Malkin, helps him out. Then this year, Babcock decides to completely shadow Crosby with Zetterberg, Lidstrom, and later on, Datsuyk. Sid was, for the most part, shut down in that series, but Malkin even with the #2 pairing wasn’t as impressive as most would’ve liked…What happens? The role players step up and that Conn Smythe is Malkin’s – not that Sid cared anyways. I mean, that big, 35 lbs silver trophy was his…But what happened? Sid is belittled by many media outlets for missing the handshake line; again, his accomplishment is overshadowed by some ridiculous incident that was TOTALLY blown out of proportion. Ken Hitchcock calls you a whiner and a diver in your rookie year…What happens? Alex “best player in the world” Ovechkin dives on national television (not the first time) during one of the “most anticipated playoff series ever” (as per the NHL media), and it gets thrown under the rug, while Sid is still taking crap for stupid stuff he did FOUR years ago. When was the last time you saw Sid dive or truly complain (outside of his captaincy duties)? Now, he’s got his own home market media telling his that he’s playing second fiddle.

    To me, Babcock settled the MVP question when he shadowed Crosby with, what many would call some of the best shutdown players in the league. I mean, the guy will win a big faceoff for you anytime it’s needed, fight if the team needs a boost (even though I’d rather him not; but it lets other teams know he’s not afraid), will give the body to block a shot, make the game winning save, work down low (probably where he’s gotten most of his groin injuries) for the puck, is good at backchecking, is an elite playmaker, has improved his shot infinitely and is more willing to take shot from farther out, but it also willing to take a beating by going to the “dirty” areas to get that deflection or garbage goal, has got the best hand-eye coordination in the game, and dare i say it, the BEST backhander in the game. Not to mention his drive to, not only compete, but get better. He HATES losing – you can just see it. It was a shot summer, but this guy brought out the synthetic stick and shot pucks on a concrete slab, into a net, in his backyard all summer. He also worked to perfect his faceoffs; although one will obviously never be perfect in faceoffs, how can you say it hasn’t shown tremendously? And, you said it yourself, “this Penguins team is more his than any during his three years as captain.” Now, tell me again, how is Malkin the most valuable player when it’s Sid’s team? Plain in simple, Captain Crosby is the key component to this Penguins team.

  5. Andrew says:

    I’ve been telling anyone who would listen for the past 3 years that Malkin is the straw that stirs the drink for this team.

    This is NOT a knock on Crosby. He proved everything he needed to prove to me in that great game vs. Philly 3 yrs ago when he netted his hat trick…not to mention his first game vs Philly when they broke out the amateur dentist routine on him….not to mention his magnificence in the playoffs vs. everyone last year. I love him as our Captain and would NEVER trade him for anyone (Ovie included).

    However, I do think that Malkin is the superior talent on the ice….even if the records and stats with the other one injured are thrown out the window. The eye-test is obvious between the two and I dare say Malkin is the closest thing to Mario that I’ve ever seen (Jags included). His vision is second to none and he has a healthier balance between set-up guy and scorer. I was at Mellon the first day of training camp in 06, Malkin’s rookie campaign, and it was like the Ghost of Lemieux was skating circles around his teammates, seeing the play 3 steps ahead – just like 66 did.

    I don’t think it’s a slam at all on Crosby to acknowledge that Malkin is the superior player. Sid is more of a thinker with his game and brings intangibles to the table that Geno doesn’t. I think the best way to explain it is that Malkin is the superior instinctive player but that Crosby is the better analytical player.

  6. ConcernedPensfan says:

    The Capital’s Ovechkin leaves game November 1 with injury.
    He returned on November 17 against New York Rangers after missing 6 games. Washington’s record without Ovechkin was 4-2.

    After Ovechkin returned, Semin is out with wrist injury. Washington’s record since losing Semin, 1-1-2.

    According to Rossi’s logic, Semin is therefore the MVP for Washington??? as Semin must have been carrying the Capitals all along???

 
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