PHILADELPHIA — Evgeni Malkin speaks the truth. He does not parse words or spit a litany of athletic cliches to get through his media obligations.
When Malkin speaks, he means what he says. Without much prompting, Malkin talked for several minutes after Game 4 about the Pittsburgh Penguins, the game, and he revealed as much about the team mentality as did the 5-0 result.
In Game 4, the Penguins crushed the Philadelphia Flyers. Only orange residue remained under the black and gold tire tracks. Tuesday in practice, the Flyers were dealt what appears to be a death blow, when Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas injured top-line center Sean Couturier.
The Penguins didn’t let up or play down to the competition. In fact, the Penguins showed the killer instinct of a two-time defending champion. They pounced on the Flyers, who had no answers.
Late Wednesday night, the Penguins were satisfied and a little impressed
“They dominated five or six minutes. We just took a moment and scored,” said Malkin. “All 60 minutes, we played a great game.”
Malkin was referring to the Flyers’ offensive surge, in the middle of the first period. It wasn’t five or six minutes, though the Flyers did control territory for about that long. The blitz reached a boil for about almost three full minutes, from 11 minutes into the period until 14:37.
That’s when Phil Kessel’s wrist shot went through Flyers goalie Brian Elliott. And the Flyers were done.
It only took a moment. And then, the flood waters receded. The Penguins had clear sailing, including killing Malkin’s four-minute high-sticking penalty near the end of the second period.
“I took a bad penalty, four minutes, and our PK played unbelievable,” Malkin said.
As for Game 5, Malkin was direct, “We have experience. We have confidence. And, we’re playing at home. It’s the best moment to win.”
“I can’t say any bad words tonight. It’s power play work. PK work. Five on five. We played hard and like a physical team.” Malkin continued, “It’s an amazing team. I’m glad we’re all here,” he said.
Postseason success has again become an annual thing for the Pittsburgh Penguins. After seemingly wasting the window of Sidney Crosby’s and Malkin’s prime, the Penguins have surged again, despite both players passing their 30th birthday. In fact, with a pair of points, Crosby passed all-time great and Penguins owner Mario Lemieux as the franchise all-time playoff scoring leader, with 173 points.
“It’s not surprising. I’m close. I’m coming, too,” Malkin quipped.
The next time an athlete says they don’t know their stats, remember that line. Malkin knows where he stands, he has 162 career playoff points. But Malkin had high praise for his longtime teammate Crosby.
“He’s an amazing player. An amazing guy. Every year he works hard. He never stops, and he’s a leader,” Malkin said. “If you want to talk to him one on one, he always listens to you, tries to help you. An amazing guy for sure.”
The Penguins don’t have a shortage of amazing players, including Malkin.
Coaches sounded hesitant about pairing Malkin with Phil Kessel, as they did in Game 4. Head coach Mike Sullivan specifically worried the pair would pass the puck too much and not shoot enough.
That wasn’t an issue in Game 4. On the ice or in the locker room.
Since many of you love Malkin interviews, in their raw form — and not cleaned up for print — here is the Malkin media chat: