Sport: Ron Cook: Evgeni Malkin deserves the Hart Trophy this season - - PressFrom - US
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Sport Ron Cook: Evgeni Malkin deserves the Hart Trophy this season

18:58  13 march  2018
18:58  13 march  2018 Source:   post-gazette.com

The Penguins are still trying to find the right wingers for Sidney Crosby

  The Penguins are still trying to find the right wingers for Sidney Crosby Over the past few weeks, Evgeni Malkin has found some undeniable chemistry with Carl Hagelin on his left wing and either Patric Hornqvist or Bryan Rust on his right. It seems like pretty good odds that, when the postseason starts in six weeks, Malkin will be playing with some combination of that group. 2 Savings Accounts Pay 10x What Your Bank Pays Learn More Sponsored by MyFinance Sidney Crosby, though, is still waiting to find the right set of wingers as the Penguins head into the season’s stretch run. Two years ago, it was Hornqvist and Conor Sheary. Last year, it was Sheary and Jake Guentzel.

He also deserves more consideration than other Hart candidates – Kucherov, Ovechkin, Laine and Taylor Hall among them -- because he’s a center. Crosby won the Hart in 2014 and 2007. It’s only right that Malkin wins it this season to match him with two. Ron Cook : rcook@post-gazette.com and

Ron Cook : Evgeni Malkin deserves the Hart Trophy this season . Ditto for Bryan Rust resuscitating his season after a slow start. The Penguins could set the franchise record for power-play prowess, and Malkin has a team-high 13 power-play goals.

Ron Cook says Penguins' center Evgeni Malkin is having a season worthy of the Hart Trophy. (Peter Diana/Post-Gazette)© Peter Diana/Post-Gazette Ron Cook says Penguins' center Evgeni Malkin is having a season worthy of the Hart Trophy. (Peter Diana/Post-Gazette)

Sidney Crosby had one of the great calendar years in NHL history. In June 2016, he led the Penguins to the Stanley Cup and won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoffs MVP. In September 2016, he led Canada to the World Cup of Hockey championship and was MVP. In June 2017, after leading the NHL with 44 goals during the regular season, he led the Penguins to the Stanley Cup and won the Smythe again. That’s why he is threatening to push Gordie Howe off hockey’s Mount Rushmore and take his place next to Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Bobby Orr.

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Pittsburgh Penguins Evgeni Malkin wins the Hart Memorial Trophy for the 2011-2012 season at the 2012 NHL Awards.

Evgeni Malkin Awards. Art Ross Trophy . Season . Malkin played two more seasons in Russia before coming to North America for the He has won three Stanley Cup championships with the Penguins (2009, 2016, 2017) as well as the Hart Trophy as the NHL's MVP (2011-12), the Art Ross

I never thought I’d see anyone play that well again.

But I am seeing it right now from a player who – forget Mount Rushmore – wasn’t even picked as one of the NHL’s all-time greatest 100 players a year ago.

“This is as good as I’ve seen Geno play in my tenure here,” Mike Sullivan said late Sunday night after Evgeni Malkin had a goal and assist in the Penguins’ 3-1 win against Dallas.

I’ve been around here a lot longer than Sullivan and have watched Malkin since he came into the NHL in 2006. I’ve never seen him play better. Not in 2012 when he scored 50 goals, led the league with 109 points and won the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP. Not even in the 2009 playoffs when he led the Penguins to the Cup and won the Smythe. If his 1.7 points-per-game pace since Jan. 1 continues the rest of the season on a team that looks very capable of winning a third consecutive Cup and the fourth of the Crosby/Malkin era, it will be a crying shame if he doesn’t win the Hart again. His 39 goals were just one fewer than NHL leaders Alex Ovechkin and Patrik Laine going into Monday night’s games, his 87 points one fewer than Nikita Kucherov.

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In 2012, Malkin was awarded the Hart Trophy and Ted Lindsay Award, awarded to the best player as voted on by the players, after winning the Art Ross Trophy for the After his first professional season in Russia, Malkin was drafted second overall (behind national teammate Alexander Ovechkin) in the

Ron Cook . Quite a few people who follow the Penguins have laid out a good case for Evgeni Malkin to win the Hart Trophy for 2017-18. It’s just that although Penguins players have been awarded the Hart seven times, the franchise has not won the Stanley Cup in any of those seasons .

“Night in and night out, he’s dynamic,” Sullivan said. “I’m stating the obvious when I say that. He’s as good a player, as dangerous a player, off the rush as there is in the league. We’ve tried to turn him into a little more of a shooter. I think he’s a guy who’s every bit as much of a scoring threat as he is a playmaker. He has the ability to do both. His offense speaks for itself. In a league where it’s hard to score, he’s filling the net.

“What I’ve grown to really appreciate about him is his overall two-way game. He’s playing an inspiring game — at both ends of the rink. He’s playing the right way. He’s really made a commitment to play away from the puck. He’s committed to playing a two-way game.”

Sullivan thought enough of that commitment that he matched Malkin’s line against the Stars’ top line of Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov. He mentioned Carl Hagelin’s speed and Patric Hornqvist’s toughness as being disruptive but gave much credit to Malkin for neutralizing the Seguin line. Radulov scored Dallas’ only goal on a 5-on-3 power play, but he, Seguin and Benn finished a combined minus-3.

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“Sometimes, great players take for granted the details of the game, and how individual players or teams have success,” said Penguins coach Mike Sullivan, a blue-collar center during his 11 seasons in the NHL. Ron Cook : Evgeni Malkin deserves the Hart Trophy this season .

Ron Cook : Evgeni Malkin deserves the Hart Trophy this season . To recap - Hart Trophy candidates. And there's lots of them Kucherov Malkin MacKinnon Ovechkin Marchand Bergeron, before injury Wheeler Hall Barkov Staal Crosby Long and impressive list.

“That’s how you win championships,” Sullivan said.

That two-way game is why Malkin should win the Hart. He also deserves more consideration than other Hart candidates – Kucherov, Ovechkin, Laine and Taylor Hall among them -- because he’s a center. The demands on a center are greater than they are on a wing.

“Centers play such a pivotal role at both ends of the rink,” Sullivan said. “They’re usually the guys who distribute the puck. They’re usually the guys who drive the line …

“We’ve got a couple of those dynamic guys.”

The ability and willingness of Crosby and Malkin to co-exist in this me-first era of professional sports should not be overlooked or minimized. It, as much as their otherworldly talent, is a reason for their success and the Penguins’ success. Malkin has accepted Crosby is the face of not just the team, but the NHL. He accepts that Crosby is the team captain. He has set aside his ego even as he has become a better player and a better team leader.

“Sure, there’s a competition between them,” Sullivan said. “They’re both competitive guys. That’s what drives them to be their best. But they also understand how important they are to each other in order to help this team achieve its ultimate goal of winning championships. I know that’s what’s important to them. They’re different players in how they play, but I think there’s a great mutual respect between them. They both have a maturity level to them where they don’t take anything for granted. They know how hard it is to win in this league. They also know they need each other to do it. They have a great appreciation for each other.”

Crosby won the Hart in 2014 and 2007. It’s only right that Malkin wins it this season to match him with two.

Ron Cook: rcook@post-gazette.com and Twitter@RonCookPG. Ron Cook can be heard on the “Cook and Poni” show weekdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on 93.7 The Fan.

Ron Cook: A fun afternoon at PPG Paints Arena .
An overtime win. A series sweep of their most hated rival. Five of the prettiest goals you’ll ever see. Does it get any better for the Penguins and their fans?

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