At the dawn of training camp, Pittsburgh Penguins star center Evgeni Malkin was candid about his down season in 2018-19, his intense summer training and his hope for rebounding this season. His message hasn’t changed now that training camp is essentially over.
Asked how camp has gone for him after practice Sunday at PPG Paints Arena, Malkin first went straight for the obvious given that a few top forwards are hurt.
“No injuries is good,” Malkin said. “I feel OK. My shape is good. Working every day. I played three exhibition games. I need to fix my mistakes. I’ll be fine. I believe in myself. I’m all right. I’m not nervous.”
Malkin, 33, had 21 goals last season, below his standard, and costly penalties and turnovers plagued him and the team.
There also were reports of friction between Malkin and coach Mike Sullivan.
Asked if he expects a bounce-back season, Malkin was direct — and a little coy.
“I believe that … I worked hard all summer. My shape is good,” he said, then smiled. and offered a personal checklist.
“Be smart,” he said. “Listen to Coach. Talk to him. Play simple sometimes. I know how to play. It’s not my first year. I know everything that’s going on here. I know this team so well. Just be myself, have fun and I know this will be a good year for me.”