Sure, the winger situation for Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin has come into question. But there is one teammate Malkin especially gets keyed up to play with.
Malkin recently set up his fellow star center’s 500th career goal, thanks to it coming on a power play, and that still gives Malkin some tingles. The other member of the foundational trio, defenseman Kris Letang, also was on the ice for that goal Feb. 15 against the archrival Philadelphia Flyers in what became a comeback 5-4 overtime win.
“It’s a special moment for me, for Sid and for Tanger,” Makin said Wednesday after practice at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex. “The three (of us) have played together for, like, 16 years. When Sid scored, I think it was a great memory for all of us.
“I’m happy to see it. He’s an amazing player. … I’m glad to give him the assist. It’s a great memory for me. I hope someday he can give me an assist on my 500th goal.”
At 35, Malkin needs 70 more goals to reach 500. For Crosby to set that up, Malkin will need to remain with the Penguins. He’s eligible to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.
Malkin missed the first three months of the season because of offseason knee surgery. He also went through a bout of COVID-19. He has six goals, 17 points in 16 games – including a goal and three assists over the past three games.
But there has been concern that he has not found a groove with his linemates. In particular, right winger Kasperi Kapanen has not produced and no longer seems like the strong fit he was in the past.
Evgeni Malkin Lines:
The past two games, Malkin has been flanked by Danton Heinen and Jeff Carter, who normally is a center.
“Last couple of games (Carter and Heinen), I think it’s pretty good,” Malkin said.
He took the diplomatic route in terms of expressing a preference or being critical of others he has skated with, but Malkin bore some responsibility for making his line, whatever the makeup, work, and he does like the idea of consistency.
“We have lots of good players on our team,” Malkin said. “I focus on my game first of all. When I play my best, I think I give my wingers a chance to score. I hope we play the same line longer. We understand each other more, and the chemistry is better. I hope we help the team to win.”
As for his game, Malkin said he feels good and is enjoying the lighter schedule the Penguins have at the moment.
“My body is really good right now,” he said.
Here’s Evgeni Malkin: