Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Malkin Needs Rest More Than a Gold Medal

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Malkin Needs Rest More Than a Gold Medal

Article excerpt

Picture this:

Evgeni Malkin goes to the Czech Republic this week to play in the International Ice Hockey Federation World Championships, which start Friday. He plays great and leads Russia to the gold medal for the second consecutive year and the third time in four years. He returns home to Magnitogorsk as a hero.

It could happen.

Would that bother you?

It would bother the heck out of me.

Malkin did nothing in the Penguins' five-game loss to the New York Rangers in the first round of the NHL playoffs. He didn't have a goal or a point, stretching his streak of failure going back to the regular season to 15 games without a goal and 10 games without a point. That lack of production is unfathomable for an alleged superstar.

Some have blamed Malkin's struggles on his lack of quality linemates, but he always played on the first power play with Sidney Crosby and Patric Hornqvist, two pretty capable teammates. Malkin was a big reason the team's top unit went 0 for 13 against the Rangers. He scored just one power-play goal in his final 48 games, including playoffs.

Malkin apologists blamed injuries. It had to be an injury of some kind, right? Malkin missed eight of the final 14 regular-season games. There's no way he would play so poorly in the playoffs if he were healthy. Some reports said he had a back problem. Others said it was an ankle. Malkin did nothing to discourage the speculation. He described himself as between 85-90 percent before Game 3.

But Sunday, when the Penguins gathered at Consol Energy Center for the final time before going their separate ways for the summer, Malkin said he did not have a "big" injury. "I just need a little rest. My body is fine."

Coach Mike Johnston confirmed Malkin was relatively healthy against the Rangers. "Everybody is playing with little things. …

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