When Sidney Crosby missed 28 games in the 2007-08 season, Evgeni Malkin exploded and led the team to the top of the Atlantic Division.
With Crosby currently out of the lineup with a mild concussion, Malkin is showing signs that he is ready to take the lead again.
While he didn’t make it to the scoresheet in Wednesday’s 5-2 win at Montreal, he did send seven shots toward the net, created opportunities on the power play and drew an important penalty to help the team gain two points in the standings.
“I think his last game was an outstanding game for him,” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “Right after the game it was disappointing to see that he wasn’t on the scoresheet because he had played so well. He was a part of a lot of the success we had, both five on five and on the power play.”
Malkin understands that everyone needs to step up in Crosby’s absence. But he has to make sure he doesn’t try doing too many things.
“I don’t try to do too much,” Malkin said. “I just play my game and try to create chances. The last game, we played well. And I’m not changing too much – maybe just my timing and playing harder.”
While Malkin doesn’t have as many points as Crosby, he is creating just as many scoring chances, according to Bylsma.
“We keep talking about scenarios and getting to that area of the ice and getting shots on net,” Bylsma said. “He consistently leads our team in that category. He’s right up there with Sidney’s numbers in those categories, but he has not gotten the finished result.”
Crosby went through a similar phase in the beginning of the year, when many of his great scoring chances didn’t find the back of the net. He then exploded for a 25-game scoring streak.
Malkin is itching to break into that role once again, just like he did when Crosby was out in 07-08. But he is trying to keep things simple.
“I just try to play the game, shoot the puck and help my teammates win,” he said.