Malkin Didn't Disappear Upon Sid's Return
Note: An earlier version of this article contained inaccurate numbers. Some additional stats have been added, as the message still stands, although additional explanation has now been added.
With the criticism leveled towards his play in the Stanley Cup Finals, one would think that Evgeni Malkin was the second-coming of Konstantin Koltsov.
From Joe Starkey to Mark Madden, from national broadcasters to passionate fans, Penguins nation is concerned that Evgeni Malkin HAS to be the focal point of the Penguins offense to succeed. They point to Malkin’s all-world performance while Crosby was out with a high-ankle sprain as evidence.
They’re also wrong and the statistics bear that out.
Malkin With Crosby In The Lineup – Regular Season
53 games, 27 goals, 33 assists.
1.13 points per game, .51 goals per game.
Malkin Without Crosby In The Lineup – Regular Season
29 games, 20 goals, 26 assists
1.58 points per game, .68 goals per game.
So, in the regular season, Malkin increased his game while Crosby was out. But it goes beyond all of that. Of those games with Crosby, Malkin had 14 multiple point games and 12 games without a point at all. Without Crosby, he had 7 games without a point and 14 games with multiple points.
That averages out to a multiple point performance every 3.7 games with Crosby in the lineup, and a multiple point performance every 2.07 games without Crosby in the lineup. It also averages out to a silent game every 4.42 games with Crosby and a pointless game every 4.14 games without Crosby.
Therein lies the rub. While Malkin’s production certainly increased without Crosby, he actually became more streaky. His points came in bunches, while his empty games continued at about the same pace. Had he held true to form just by looking at the end results, his frequency of games without points would have dropped without Crosby in the lineup.
But the real question was not about the regular season, but Malkin’s inability to light the lamp in any fashion in the latter part of the Stanley Cup.
So what about the playoffs? The real story is when Malkin was injured/sick. All reports say that he was ill beginning late in the Philadelphia series. Plus, there was Game 1. Remember that remarkable short-handed goal that Geno scored, burying a wicked slapper past Martin Biron? Well, the reason he was so wide open was he was so shaken up from a nasty hit from Mike Richards on his first chance, he barely got back onsides.
So, we have this breakdown…
Malkin In Playoffs Through Game 1 Versus Philadelphia (Game Of The Richards Hit)
10 games, 8 goals, 9 assists.
1.7 points per game, .8 goals per game
Crosby had 4 goals and 13 assists in this time span.
Malkin In Playoffs After Richards Hit
10 games, 2 goals, 3 assists.
.5 points per game, .2 goals per game
Crosby had 2 goals and 8 assists in this time span.
It’s clear that Crosby and Malkin complement each other very well. It’s also clear that Malkin’s production dropped significantly after being rattled in the Philadelphia series. He was never the same after that, and his drop in production likely has more to do with that incident rather than any issue with Crosby.
I understand why there is hesitation to accept Malkin and Crosby on the same team for the next half dozen years or more. It’s scary to see two all-world talents not only be able to produce, but co-exist in the same locker room. For some, it’s jealousy. For others, it’s the fear that all is not well and that something is going to be taken away.
In reality, it should be celebrated and cherished instead of trying to run the shy and socially unsure Malkin out of town.