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2018 Player Report Card: Evgeni Malkin

The man, the myth, the legend. Check out the year that was for Magnitogorsk’s favorite son

NHL: Detroit Red Wings at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Player Details: Evgeni Malkin, center

Age: 31 (32 on 7/31/1986...Where behind Matt Cullen he is the team’s oldest forward)

Resume (via hockeydb):

—It was a great year for Malkin, the healthiest he has been since 2008-09 in terms of games played. He hit the 40 goal plateau for the first time since 2011-12, and at 98 points he’s back in the league’s upper stratosphere of point scorers, finishing 4th this year in the league.

Fancier stats:

Evgeni Malkin is a straight up difference maker. He was easily the most productive all-around forward the Penguins had this season.

Carl Hagelin was pretty much the Geno-whisper, a lot of good things happened for 71 with the speedy Swede on his left. Included Jake Guentzel here to show the very limited action the two had.

Also, Mike Sullivan’s penchant for splitting Phil Kessel and Malkin may have been a source of frustration for Phil, but....Based on these numbers that decision would be supported. 71+81 weren’t great this year at even strength. That said, these numbers aren’t everything and don’t project what could happen in the future with two players of that skill level, but the coach took a lot of heat from fans who sided with Phil. Data likes this shows the coach was fairly justified to not be pleased with what he was seeing. Patric Hornqvist and Bryan Rust each got better results on Malkin’s RW than Kessel.

And because hockey is weird and random, of course the defenseman with the worst possession stats with Geno (Justin Schultz) ends up by far having the prettiest results in goals for and against. It’s a funny sport.

With Phil owning the left side, Malkin was free to strike from all over the right side of the ice on the power play. Ideally you’d always like to see more shots near the net, but with Crosby and Hornqvist pretty much camped there, Malkin’s role as puck distributor and passing option for Phil and the defenseman is a key for where he is.

Monthly Splits (via yahoo)

Like most of his teammates, Malkin was fine but “blah” the first three months of the season as the back-to-back champs sleepwalked through a schedule that saw a lot of back-to-back games. But then. holy cow in 2018 did Gene flip the switch. Look at this 30 game stretch from 12/31/17 - 3/11/18:

The old narrative “when Malkin is in the zone he’s the best player in the world” really hit home over this stretch. Geno left Connor McDavid, Sidney Crosby, eventual MVP Taylor Hall and the rest of the league in the dust putting up a Lemieux-esque 50 points in 30 games, and nearly scoring a goal per game too. From 3/11 to the end of the regular season Malkin would “only” score 13 points in 13 games, as production like the above just can’t last forever in the NHL today but most of the Pens season turnaround is owed to strong play in January and February. A lot of that was fueled by #71’s production.

Funky stats:

Evgeni Malkin was the only player in the league in 2018-19 top end up in the Top 5 in goals (42) and points (98).

—In 47 games before the All-Star break, Malkin had 12 power play goals and 14 power play assists. In 31 post-AS games, Malkin had just 2 PPG to go along with 10 PPA.

—Malkin delighted the faithful at PPG Paints Arena scoring 25 goals and 56 points in 38 home contests (compared to 17g and 42p in 40 games on the road). Malkin’s shots on goal per game were also much more favorable at home (3.5) compared to away (2.65).

—Early start? No worries, Malkin was productive in day games (though he only played 3 this season) scoring 3g+2a.

What to watch for:

For the Penguins, milestones in 2017-18 was all about the year of Sidney Crosby. Crosby crossed more than a few notable thresholds (400 career goals, 700 assists and 1100 points) at different times in the year. 2018-19 could be Malkin’s turn for a milestone year. Gene has attainable landmarks in site, needing 30 goals for 400 career tucks, 70 points for the magic 1,000 and 40 assists for 600 helpers. It’s pretty cool that both #87 and #71 are getting to the point where just about every goal, assist and point are important markers in some way.

The Grades:

Power play: A++

With 38 PPP, Malkin finished tied with teammate Crosby for 3rd in the league, with Phil Kessel first overall and Winnipeg’s Blake Wheeler breaking up the Pens party for the 2nd spot. Pittsburgh had a historically great power play and Malkin, as always, was a driving force in it.

Even Strength: A

Durability: A-

It’s rare when Malkin comes close to 80 regular season games, and past the age of 30 now too. That was good to see. It was unfortunate he did pick up a leg injury at the exact wrong time in the playoffs

Playoffs (8 points [4g+4a] in 9 games): B-

Geno was basically a non-factor after suffering his injury (1g+2a in 5 games) and pretty clearly limited in the Caps series.

Overall Grade: A-


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