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.
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