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Monday, October 21, 2013

"Mad Monday" With @MadChad412 (Mad About Evgeni Malkin Haters)

Welcome to another edition of "Mad Monday" with me "Mad" Chad Nolan. As you know by now this is a forum I use to try to put together my rants in a somewhat formal write-up. Once again there's really not much to be mad about in the world of the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Pens are in first place in their division and the eastern conference. So is there anything to really be pissed off about when it comes to the Pens?

When you have "yinzers" the answer is always yes.

One thing I'm mad about is the constant hate and over-analysis of Evgeni Malkin. Go on social media and type in "Evgeni Malkin" followed by any of the following: "Lethargic, lazy, doesn't care, selfish, dumb, idiot, idiotic, stupid, overrated". You get the point. Despite the fact that Malkin has won a Calder Trophy (Rookie of the year), a Stanley Cup, a Conn Smythe trophy (Playoffs MVP), a Heart Trophy (MVP), and two Art Ross trophies (Scoring champions) Malkin is constantly under attack by yinzers and even local radio hosts. (See Mark Madden)

Look, I understand that Malkin is not Sidney Crosby, he's not better than Crosby, no one is. Crosby is the best player in the NHL right now and has been. That should never takeaway what Malkin brings and has brought to the table.

Malkin, for my money, is one of the top-five overall players in the NHL. Really, I wouldn't hesitate to put Malkin at number two in player rankings behind his teammate and captain. Right now, Malkin has the third best active points-per-game average in the regular season at 1.22. The only two guys ahead of him....Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin.

To add to that, Malkin has the second best points-per-game average among active players, with only Crosby ahead of him. So any talk about Malkin being overrated gets automatically put into the "extremely stupid" category. That should be a no-brainer but I see this kind of talk about Malkin far too much. Even by local media members that are supposed to know the game enough to get paid to talk about it.

Malkin is averaging over one point-per-game through eight games this season, despite the fact that his usual goal-scoring winger James Neal being out with an injury. When Neal comes back, I fully expect Malkin to get around 1.2-1.4 points per game, which is where he's almost at without Neal.

As for Malkin being lethargic and/or lazy....Listen, Malkin's probably never going to win a Selke award, but he's not lazy like his countryman Ovechkin either. Malkin has actually been playing some pretty solid defense this year. Malkin leads the team in takeaways and only two forwards (Jussi Jokinen and Chuck Kobasew) have a better GA20, which is an advanced stat used to measure goals against for individual players.

Obviously, Malkin is not without flaw. Malkin does tend to turn the puck over more than I would like and he definitely needs to cut down on his penalty minutes. Malkin leads the team in minor penalties so far. Malkin, like Crosby, also disappeared during the eastern conference finals last year, netting ZERO points in four games against the Boston Bruins. On top of that, Malkin has been underwhelming in two of the past three years. Last year he only had 33 points in 31 games, missing 17 games with an injury. In 2010-2011, he missed 39 games, and averaged less than a point-per-game in the 43 games that he did play in.

You just can't have that when you have a $9.5 million salary cap hit.

 That being said, every player has flaws, even Crosby. Malkin's flaws are aggravating, but he consistently puts big-time points up on a team that wins on a consistent basis. The people that want to hate on him for whatever reason can get bent for all I care. The constant unfair criticism of Malkin needs to stop because at times it's so overwhelming. Yinzers have to complain about somebody. For some reason, despite the fact that Malkin is a very likable person and a great player, he seems to be an easy and favorite scapegoat for fans of this franchise. Team Geno or GTFO.

Oh by the way, Malkin had the game-winning shootout goal on Saturday against the Vancouver Canucks. Thanks again you lazy Russian superstar.

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