Greetings, Pens fans. Rossi is slaving away on Winter Classic articles, so allow me to give an insider view of what unfolded tonight at the CEC.
= Whenever Penguins fans get bored or disgruntled with the team, Evgeni Malkin always seems to receive a ton of criticism. In fact, many people believe that, if one of the Penguins’ young players is ever traded, it will be Malkin.
I can’t deny that Malkin is difficult to figure and often inconsistent. But on nights like this, we are reminded why GM Ray Shero need not ever answer the phone if anyone calls regarding Malkin’s availability. The scary thing about Malkin’s performance, incidentally, wasn’t related to any of the five points he produced. Rather, for the first time all season, he looked like the “old Malkin,” if you will. This was the Geno from two or three years ago, both in the way he skated and the borderline out-of-control play he exhibited. When Geno is at his best, he plays the game right on the edge, a high-risk player who almost always wins the gamble. Tonight, he was unbelievable. Clearly he is healthy, and other teams in the league should be well aware of this. A healthy, happy and productive Malkin will almost definitely make the Penguins the favorite to win the Stanley Cup. It has only been three games, of course, but Malkin has been dominant since his return from a knee injury, which is very encouraging for the team’s chances to win a championship. If Malkin plays close to this level the remainder of the season, and a healthy Jordan Staal eventually joins the squad, it’s going to be very difficult for them to lose a seven-game series.
= I wish a camera would have captured the scene in the locker room this morning, when 20 hockey players watched intently for Sidney Crosby to appear on The Price is Right. Funny stuff.
= Line of the day goes to head coach Dan Bylsma, who accidentally called Drew Carey by the name “Drew Barrymore” while watching the Price is Right. Perhaps he didn’t want me to repeat that story, but sometimes humor should come before prudence. I suspect this represents the first time in history that anyone has confused Drew Carey for Drew Barrymore.
= Poor Taylor Pyatt. You could tell, about three seconds into that fight, that he wanted nothing to do with Deryk Engelland. I don’t blame him. Is there a better fighter in hockey right now?
Until next time, you stay classy, Pittsburgh.