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Friday, May 31, 2013

Two-Headed Monster is Too Much For Teams by @MadChad412

The Pittsburgh Penguins are rolling through the 2012-2013 NHL playoffs by skill and scoring a lot of goals. Mainly, the Pens are thriving thanks to their two superstars, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, also known as the "Two-headed monster".  Cliche as this post is, bear with me, as I show just how truly special these two guys are, and how the Pittsburgh Penguins entire organization went "all in" on building their team around them.

When the won the draft lottery in order to draft Crosby it changed the hockey culture around here forever, of course we already know this. Drafting Malkin was a bonus gift that keeps on giving. This team has two guys that combined have won 2 Hart Trophies, 3 Art Ross trophies, 1 Conn Smythe, 1 Stanley Cup, and a Calder trophy in just seven seasons.

The Penguins have invested so much into two individual superstars who have such different personalities. Malkin was rewarded with a five-year deal worth $43 million. Crosby, who before had a contract worth $8.7 million per-year, signed a brand new contract this year. Crosby is now signed for the next 12 seasons.....

There's a reason that some non-Pens fans say that Gary Bettman rigged the lottery to help the Penguins. Those people wear tinfoil hats on their heads though. Illuminati.

When the Pens won the cup in 08-09 it was mainly because of the Crosby-Malkin combination. Malkin won the Conn Smythe, leading the postseason with 36 points. Crosby wasn't far behind him, leading the postseason with 15 goals, and finishing behind Malkin with 31 points.

The Pens need other factors, two guys can't win Stanley Cups by themselves, that's obvious. Good goaltending from Marc-Andre Fleury, heroic efforts from the defense, and solid play by a great group of role players filled out a Stanley Cup championship team, those are the ingredients needed to win every year.

Since then, I think people have started to doubt the "Two-headed monster" model. The Pens won a total of one playoff series in the last three seasons, and the Crosby/Malkin duo were less than dominate in the 2009-2010 playoffs. There were many bloggers and analysts clamoring for one of the two superstars to be traded.......Moronic....Right?

The Pens have stood by the two-superstar model through the great and through the disappointing playoff exits. It happens, when you have these two higher profile guys, the expectations become to win the Stanley Cup every season, and that's just not a realistic goal. But when you take a look at what the other "superstars" around the league have done recently, the Pens have hit a home run with Malkin and Crosby once again.

For example:

The New York Rangers: Rick Nash and Brad Richards combined made over $13 million per year. In the postseason they combined for 6 points, and just 1 goal. Richards ended up getting benched and Nash's goal totals were doubled by Tyler Kennedy. Yikes.

Washington Capitals: Alexander Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom combine for over $15 million in salary, they lost in the first round this year, and in doing say they combined for just 5 points in 7 games.

Tampa Bay Lightning: They invested a combined $18 million this year between Steven Stamkos (worth it) and Vincent Lecavialier (not worth it). Stamkos made a run for the Art Ross and won the Maurice "Rocket" Richard trophy but the Lightning didn't even sniff the playoffs.

The point is the Pens have invested so much into two guys but they're worth every penny. Malkin and Crosby don't just sporadically perform at high levels like some other superstars, they are consistent when it comes to point production.

And even when one of them is in a slump, the other is usually giving opposing goalies nightmares. Malkin has carried the Pens on his back twice in his career , winning the Art Ross in 2007-2008 and 2011-2012 while Crosby was out for a long time due to injury. This year, Malkin was missing time due to a shoulder injury, and Crosby was on his way to a historic season until he suffered a broken jaw.

Thus far in the postseason, Crosby and Malkin have practically taken turns on being "The guy" in games. In game one against Ottawa, the Pens were led by Malkin's 3 point night. The next night, Crosby led the way with a hat-trick.

Right now, Crosby and Malkin are second and third in the league in scoring. They have combined for 31 points through two rounds. Combined they have more points than Pavel Datsyuk, Johnathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Alexander Ovechkin, Rick Nash, and Brad Richards all combined. That's insane.

Look where Crosby and Malkin rank among all-time in the NHL playoffs in points-per-game:

And the Pens just keep on winning. I'm not writing off the Boston Bruins but I don't see them beating the Pens in a seven-game series. The Pens have too much depth, too much scoring, too much talent. The Pens are the favorite to win the Stanley Cup once more and the "Two-Headed monster" will be once again leading the way. That's the way the Cup should be won, with pure hockey skill. That's what Crosby and Malkin represent.

Instead of being so melodramatic when Crosby or Malkin aren't producing for a game or two, Pens' fans need to take a look around the league and compare Crosby and Malkin to the other superstars in the league. Pens' fans should feel lucky and fortunate that they have the best tandem in hockey, again, after getting to watch Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr play in the 1990's.

Going forward, the Pens have already signed Crosby long-term. Now they need to do the same with Malkin, as his contract expires after next season. The two-superstar system works, with these two at least. Opposing teams can shut down one line, but it's damn hard to shut down both lines on most nights.

That's what makes them so special, that's what makes makes this team so tough to beat.

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