SAN JOSE, Calif. – Evgeni Malkin hasn’t scored a goal since Game 5 against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Final. This would, logically, be a point of frustration for him.
“What do you mean?” said Malkin on Tuesday, when asked if he’s vexed. “We lead 2-1 in the series. I don’t score much, but I want to help my team in different ways, like playing well in the D-zone. It’s not easy. I try to score.”
Malkin has been getting some scrutiny for a lack of offensive production, having failed to tally a point in the Stanley Cup Final against the San Jose Sharks, with Monday’s Game 4 looming.
Is it his health?
“I feel great. We’re playing against good defensemen. They play so close, so tight. Tough to shoot sometimes,” said Malkin, who has four goals and 11 assists in the postseason.
Is it not having the puck enough?
“I want it more. Next game, I play more with puck. It’s my game: Use my feet, get the puck in the neutral zone. I feel better when I have the puck on my stick,” he said.
Is it just a matter of time?
Malkin has a score-adjusted Corsi at 5-on-5 of 74.69 against the San Jose Sharks, which is outstanding. That would indicate that it’s just a matter of time before he notches a goal and breaks his drought.
Or is it that he’s playing well, doing what his coach’s system demands, but hasn’t found a way to create offensively in the same ways Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel have?
“We want our players to make plays. We want them to act on their instincts. We also want them to have calculated risk in mind. When we always use the phrase 'we want to play the game the right way,' a lot of it starts with the decisions we make with the puck, with an understanding of situational play,” said coach Mike Sullivan.
“Geno is no different. He is buying into our team concept here. He's been a big part of this playoff success. But certainly I know that there's another level that he has to help us win. We're trying to encourage him to find that balance in his game of making those plays when the opportunities present themselves, and when they're not, to make the simple play.”
Malkin admits there’s been an adjustment.
“it’s a little bit different. The game has changed. We have different team. We have different coach. We don’t play two lines, we play four,” he said. “I like what we do. We have a great team.”
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