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The Malkin Era

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

Evgeni Malkin has been in a Penguins uniform for six seasons. In that time, the lovable Russian has won a Stanley Cup, played in two Cup Finals, won two scoring titles, playoff MVP, rookie of the year and provided countless memories and highlights for fans.

Below is a look back at the 10 Most Memorable Moments from Malkin's career.

Malkin realized a childhood dream when he skated his country to a gold medal at the 2012 World Championship. Well, skated them to gold is an understatement. He gave them no choice but to succeed is probably more applicable.

Malkin was named the tournament MVP and Best Forward as Russia went a perfect 10-0, becoming the first team to win all of their games in regulation since the 1989 Soviets.

Malkin was by far the best player in the tournament, leading all players with 19 points on 11 goals and eight assists. His 19 points are a Russian team record.

Malkin tore up the international stage for Team Russia as a teenager and Penguins fans were salivating at the thought of the talented center joining an already budding team of stars.

Even Malkin’s arrival in Pittsburgh seemed like a movie scene from a James Bond film (From Russia with Love seems fitting). After signing a contract under duress with his hometown team, Magnitogorsk of the Russian Super League, Malkin went AWOL. The 19-year-old left the team and went into hiding until a Visa was secured for him to come to the United States.

Although his first NHL campaign was postponed due to injury, when Malkin finally laced up his skates for the black and gold, he went on a tear that gave Penguins fans a glimpse of the future.

In his first-ever game, Oct. 18, 2006 against New Jersey, Malkin poked a puck through the legs of future Hall of Fame goaltender Martin Brodeur for his first NHL goal. He would score six more tallies in the next five games, becoming the first NHL player in 89 years to score a goal in each of his first six games (seven total).

One of those first seven goals will likely be forever remembered by Penguins fans as the moment they realized the genius ability of Malkin. On Oct. 24, Malkin took a pass at the opposing blue line, danced through two Devils and schooled Brodeur with incredible stick skills. He capped his run with an overtime goal against the Los Angeles Kings to give Pittsburgh a 4-3 win.

Pens fans have a special place in their hearts for Malkin and that love extends to his family.

Vladimir and Natalia Malkin have become celebrities in their own way, adored by Pens fans. They are a constant presence at games when visiting the United States, cheering and screaming for the team. They celebrate goals with high fives, fist pumps and hugs for the crowd surrounding them. While walking through the concourse of CONSOL Energy Center, the Malkins shake hands and pose for pictures with fans with wide smiles and humbled joy. How could you not love them?

And of course, when mom is in town she does the cooking for Evgeni, making sure he eats properly to play at his best.

Malkin completed one of the best rookie seasons in club history. In 78 games, Malkin totaled 33 goals, 52 assists and 85 points en route to winning the NHL’s Calder Trophy for rookie of the year.

Malkin helped lead the Penguins to a playoff berth for the first time in five years. But more importantly, Malkin’s presence alongside Sidney Crosby, Jordan Staal, Marc-Andre Fleury and Brooks Orpik officially ushered in a new team, new identity and new era of Penguins hockey.

Evgeni Malkin + Twitter = money. Makin's fun loving and playful personality is fully exhibited on the social media world. Equipped with Russian smiles )))))))), Malkin has captivated his nearly 200,000 followers with entertaining and funny tweets.

More gems (here, here, here and here).

Evgeni Malkin has mesmerized audiences since the first time the puck touched his stick. But there are a few goals that really stand out in the minds of fans. You know the goals, the ones you remember where you were and who you were with when the goal was scored.

Malkin’s first transcendent playoff goal came in the 2008 Eastern Conference finals against hated cross-state rival Philadelphia.

Malkin was hit hard by the Flyers’ Mike Richards. Malkin was airborne and collided with the boards before laying flat on the ice. He slowly got back onto his feet.

However, while he was making his way back up the ice, the Penguins gained possession of the puck. Fellow countryman and part-time landlord Sergei Gonchar snapped a lengthy pass to Malkin, who was  at the opposing blue line. Malkin skated in all alone on Flyers netminder Martin Biron.

Instead of using his gifted stick-handling abilities to juke Biron, Malkin used a different tactic. Malkin fused his anger and frustration from the Richards’ hit and channeled it into a monstrous cathartic slap shot from 15 feet away. Boom!

Biron never had a chance.

In a span of six seconds, Malkin put on an individual display that became the signature goal of the Pens’ 2009 Stanley Cup championship run.

In the Eastern Conference finals against the Carolina Hurricanes, Malkin lined up for a faceoff in the offensive zone. The designed play off the faceoff was called “The Geno” and Geno executed it with brilliance.

Malkin, who had two goals prior in the game, pushed the puck forward off the draw. He retrieved the puck in the corner and carried behind the net. Malkin skated to the side of the net and lifted a blind, spinning backhand shot over the shoulder of goaltender Cam Ward for his first career playoff hat trick.

Malkin left his mark on the NHL in the 2007-08 season after winning the NHL’s scoring title (Art Ross Trophy) with 113 points on 35 goals and 78 assists. He became the fourth player in team history to win the coveted trophy, joining owner/legend Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr and teammate Sidney Crosby, and established himself as arguably the best player in the game.

But Malkin’s most impressive individual season occurred in the 2011-12 campaign. The year began in the summer when Malkin was rehabilitating from a torn ligament in his knee in Moscow that caused him to miss the second half of 2010-11 and all of the playoffs.

The injury held him out of some games early in the 11-12 season, but after he made a full recovery there was no stopping Geno. He ran roughshod over the NHL by netting a career-high 50 goals to go along with his league-leading 109 points. Malkin’s 109 points were 12 more than second-place finisher Steven Stamkos (Tampa Bay, 97).

Malkin’s two Art Ross trophies give the Pens 14 of the last 24 NHL scoring championships and the right to claim the best player in the league.

After claiming the NHL’s scoring title in 2008-09, Malkin carried his dominant play into the postseason. He won the playoff scoring race with 36 points (14G-22A) to become the fourth-youngest Conn Smythe (playoff MVP) recipient at that time at 22 years, 10 months after leading Pittsburgh to its third Stanley Cup in franchise history.

Malkin’s 36 points are the second-highest single-season total in team history and he became the first player since Lemieux (1992) to win the regular-season and postseason scoring title in the same year.

After Pittsburgh’s 2-1 Game 7 victory at Detroit, Malkin was handed the Conn Smythe. Minutes later Malkin raised the Stanley Cup over his head in a joyous celebration and the fulfillment of a lifelong dream.

Nothing showed the true character and hilarious personality of Malkin than his attempt to cook Russian food with PensTV’s Alyonka Larionov.  Geno did an impression of Lebron James, ran off set to answer a phone call at the end and had the following exchange:

Malkin: Tell me I did a good job.
Alyonka: Good work, Geno.
Malkin: I know, now stir.

And don’t forget the special guest appearance by Kris Letang.

What are your favorite Geno moments? Leave a comment below and tell us.

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