Sometimes, it seems Evgeni Malkin has two roles within the Pittsburgh Penguins universe. There are days when the galloping Russian center reminds everyone that he is a former Calder Trophy winner, a Conn Smythe winner, and one of the best of his generation, Russian or otherwise.
But now and again, Evgeni Malkin can send Penguins fans running to the liquor cabinet with head-scratching mistakes, bad penalties, or both.
As the Twitterverse heated up on Saturday afternoon, Evgeni Malkin lit the match. He took a silly roughing penalty just a few minutes into the game. Later in the period, he gave New York a power play with a needless tripping penalty. Sandwiched between his trips to the penalty box were a couple of giveaways.
Malkin dished a little to the officials, too.
“I took three penalties, but I’m not surprised. This guy–every game–gives me penalties,” Malkin said. “I’m not surprised. But it’s okay. I understand. I’ll be more disciplined next game.”
And no shots. At all. Zero shots on goal in Game 4, a Pittsburgh Penguins 4-1 loss to the New York Islanders. The anti-Malkin sentiment, which bubbles to the surface like acne before the Prom, exploded.
It was so relentless that even noted Pittsburgh talker Mark Madden, who is not shy about criticizing athletes, told Pittsburgh Penguins fans to call off the dogs.
I never thought I'd say this, but get off Geno's ass. FFS.
— Mark Madden (@MarkMaddenX) May 22, 2021
Evgeni Malkin seemed to acknowledge a premise that Mike Sullivan downplayed in the postgame press conference. PHN specifically asked Sullivan if the Penguins attempted to assert themselves physically, to the point of distraction.
Sullivan firmly said no.
Malkin said it’s not so easy to avoid getting sucked into the silliness after the whistle.
“It’s hard to go away every time. After the whistle, you skate (inaudible), they come to you. It’s playoffs time,” Malkin said. “If they push the goalie or push your partners, you need to be strong. We understand how they play, they’re a physical team, but after the whistle, we need to stay together.”
Evgeni Malkin, postgame: