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Malkin Hopes to Win Big in Vegas

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

LAS VEGAS, Nevada – With the Art Ross Trophy already on his shelf, Evgeni Malkin heads to Las Vegas playing with house money. On Wednesday night at the NHL Awards, he’s hoping to double down on a couple more trophies.

Malkin is a finalist for the Hart (MVP) and Ted Lindsay (MVP as voted by the players) Trophies, going against Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos and New York Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist.

“Everyone wants to win,” Malkin said Tuesday afternoon. “Steven Stamkos and Henrik Lundqvist want to win. I’m not thinking a lot about it. The season is over. I can’t do anything now.

“(Lundqvist is) a great goalie. He’s a good guy too. (Stamkos) plays better and better every year. He’s been unbelievable, how many goals he scores is unbelievable.”

Malkin said it would be “special” and an “honor” to win his first ever Hart and Ted Lindsay awards – he was nominated for each twice before but did not win – but his main concern is to build on a spectacular 2011-12 season that saw him net a league-best 109 points and career-best 50 goals.

“It’s good for me. Every player nominated had a good season,” Malkin said. “I worked hard. People helped me. I say thank you to my fans and the media too.

“It’s special. For me I just want to stay at the same level. I see how Sidney (Crosby) plays every year at the same high level. I played a little bit better last year, but I want to stay at that same level 10 more years.”

Malkin had a busy offseason. He joined Russia at the 2012 World Championship and led his native country to a gold medal as the tournament’s Best Forward. He scored a tournament-high 19 points (11G-8A) and had two hat tricks in 10 games. Malkin’s 19 points are a Russian WC record.

“We had a good team. I had fun the whole tournament,” he said. “We played every game hard. I never won before. I felt great after.”

Malkin spent last summer rehabbing from a torn knee in Russia with Penguins strength and conditioning coach Mike Kadar. After the remarkable results, Malkin said that he plans on using the same summer routine.

“He’ll come the same time (as last year),” Malkin said. “It’s the same program. It helped me. I like ‘Kades,’ I hope he likes me. It’s fun. We’ll work every day.”

Malkin said that he would love to see teammates Crosby and Jordan Staal, both of whom will need to new contracts at the end of next season, re-sign with the club. He also used the opportunity to lobby Penguins general manager Ray Shero on his own status.

“I hope they sign me too,” Malkin said. “I want to stay in Pittsburgh. I like Penguins hockey, Penguins organization and the fans.”

Malkin hopes his trip to Vegas will add some more league trophies for the organization and the fans.

What happens in Vegas is supposed to stay in Vegas. But Malkin is hoping to bring home a little hardware.

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