“I know my level…I know I’m a good player,” Evgeni Malkin said after practice at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex, Tuesday.
Does he know that or was he telling himself that because for over two months Evgeni Malkin, one of the most decorated and talented Russian players of all-time, has not been a great player? The ink he has put on the scoring sheet has not equated to the performance on the ice.
Malkin has just three even strength goals in since Oct. 30. The eye test, the coaches, and the player had little disagreement he was scuffling before Malkin turned in an A+ performance against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Wednesday. Malkin dropped the gloves and fought Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, Wednesday night and he began fighting his way out of the slump.
He was not only engaged, but he was also feeling good about his performance and the feeling grew into confidence.
“The coaches and I watch video…They tell me what I’m doing wrong,” said Malkin, Tuesday.
And the head coach praised him Wednesday night.
“I really liked his game tonight. That’s (Malkin’s) best game in a while. He was on the puck. You noticed him. He was a presence every shift,” head coach Mike Sullivan said. “When he’s engaged like that, emotionally, that’s when he’s at his best.”
Yes, Malkin may have looked disinterested during his slump, but don’t mistake frustration or dejection for disengaged. The Penguins locker room and coaches were unanimously behind Malkin and to a soul said it was frustration.
Was the slump the result of emotional disengagement?
No. Absolutely not. It was about what Malkin and the coaches saw on the video. Malkin began to heed the words and advice, Wednesday night and the results were obvious.