Fans can be fickle. Of course, that isn’t a newsflash, but Pittsburgh Penguins generational talent Evgeni Malkin is struggling in the 2020-21 NHL season. Not even the big Russian center would deny his season-opening foibles. Still, comment sections, Facebook posts, and other social media voices are offering to escort Malkin out of Pittsburgh and laying the tracks for that train.
After former Penguins GM Jim Rutherford abruptly resigned on Wednesday, conspiracy theories caught fire that Rutherford wanted to trade Malkin, but ownership stopped him.
Sheathe that sword, as all involved have discarded the notion and asserted the contrary. But the willingness by many to wonder does connect to the depth of Malkin’s struggles.
Thursday night, the Pittsburgh Penguins lost to the Boston Bruins, 4-1 at TD Garden. Despite plenty of puck possession, the Penguins got just 17 shots on goal. That number was only 14 with a few minutes to go. Boston coasted to the finish, apparently.
“Boston, they were faster, and they were hungry. They won every battle in the corner,” Malkin said. “We need to look to the mirror and fight in every shift. It’s not a pretty game…We need to play simple. Just work, work work.”
But Malkin was also brutally honest about his play, and in that introspection, he offered the most insight as to why his season has been a goose egg at even strength. And, you know, his admissions make sense.