Malkin's return makes Penguins Stanley Cup favorites - Sports1
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Malkin’s return makes Penguins Stanley Cup favorites

Faltering as the 2021-22 NHL season nears the middle Pittsburgh Penguins Welcome back to one of their two franchise pillars Evgeny Markin, the superstar center marked his long-awaited return with two goals against the Anaheim Ducks. It’s heartening that the talented Russian hub doesn’t appear to have lost a step while recovering from offseason surgery, which bodes very well for the Penguins’ suddenly increased Stanley Cup chances.Let’s dive into why Malkin’s return makes the Penguins top stanley cup contenders 2021-22 season.

Penguins’ forward depth steps up in Malkin’s absence

Lack of typical offensive contributions from captains Sidney Crosby And Malkin for most of the season, the Penguins are hungry for a reliable source of production from their supporting cast. Fortunately, they received all of these and more, Brian Burke’s recent comments Reflecting their belief in a deep piece of work going into the playoffs.In fact, the Penguins One of the hottest teams in the NHL, lost to the Dallas Stars, ending their impressive 10-game winning streak in December and January.

Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins (Amy Owen /hockey writer)

Among the unexpected candidates this season, Evan Rodriguez (30 points in 35 games), Jeff Carter (20 points in 29 games) and Kasperi Kapanin (20 points in 34 games) can give the team hope going forward. If they can do this consistently without the team’s primary offensive compass, their presence should only further boost their output.If Burke and GM Ron Hextall really believe in the team, there could be further additions Made at the trade deadline Consolidate the Penguins’ already reliable team behind the scenes.

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Plus, Crosby and Malkin’s reunion is Pittsburgh’s biggest weakness this season, a much-needed antidote to Game of Thrones. They’re 22nd in overall efficiency this season (18%), but since Crosby returned in late October, power players’ hit rate has remained at 18.7%, the 19th highest at the time.However, their units are One of the best at creating beauty, 6th in opportunity quality (xGF/60) and 5th in scoring opportunity (SCF/60), with a human advantage. With Malkin on board, they should start taking advantage of their abundance of opportunities in more productive ways.

Penguins among the strongest teams in the NHL

A key indicator of a team’s relative dominance is how well they perform when the intensity of the game is even, as it is Common characteristics of Stanley Cup winners Finish the season among the best in the NHL in the division. Fortunately for the Penguins, the absence of their star player didn’t affect their territorial advantage in 5-on-5, and their strong results in Crosby and Malkin only cemented their relative advantage . Here’s how the Penguins currently rank in the league in 5-on-5 with four different metrics of shooting and chance quality.

Share on ice (%) NHL rankings
shooting 54.1 5
scoring opportunity 54.3 6
high crisis 54.4 4
expected goal 54.9 3
2021-22 5-on-5 Penguins on-ice metrics

Remember, these base stats were produced without the team’s main driver offense, and show the strength of their depth and support parts. Teams should be able to call in their secondary reinforcements to give the stars a much-needed respite when they have to stop opponents in a competitive playoff series.for the head coach Mike Sullivan And his staff, that reality has given them more trust in their less prominent unit, and could prove to be a key difference in a tight series.

Penguins star refreshed for playoffs

While recovering from a serious injury and subsequent surgery has been anything but easy, the Penguins stars have so far not seen their aging bodies overtaxed by the NHL season. While their opponents have played nearly half the season, Crosby and Malkin are wearing less than usual, potentially rejuvenating them during the most important time of the year.

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According to NHL Injury Viz, the Penguins currently rank fourth in the league in field goal percentage (CHIP), a cumulative metric that adds up the field goal percentage per game for players who are absent due to injury or other absences. Only the Vegas Golden Knights, Washington Capitals and Montreal Canadiens have lost more, meaning Pittsburgh’s stellar start to the year has no key contributors, a terrible proposition for the rest of the NHL .

Kris Letang #58, Sidney Crosby #87 and Evgeni Malkin #71
Kris Letang, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins (Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

While it’s uncertain whether Malkin can return to his previous levels of production, he remains one of the top centers in the NHL when healthy.Center since 2019-20 Eighth in points per game (1.18) Among players who have played at least an 82-game season. His injury history may be spotty, but his talent cannot be questioned.

On Pittsburgh’s lengthy injured list this season, Malkin (missing 34 games), Brian Rust (20), Crosby (12) and Jack Gunzel (six) are among the All time points this year are temporarily unavailable. Despite these key absences, the Penguins are still just 3 points ahead of the Carolina Hurricanes, even though the Hurricanes have a few games left. If anyone is familiar with honing in on adversity, it’s Pittsburgh’s organizational leaders, and so far some turmoil has never led them astray — Why this season will be different?

Can the Penguins win a fourth Stanley Cup of the Crosby and Malkin era?

A loaded Eastern Conference makes winning a fourth Stanley Cup in the Crosby-Malkin era a daunting task, but one the Penguins’ superstars have grown accustomed to accomplishing. The entire Pittsburgh team is going all out, so there are few weaknesses to exploit. Tristan Jarry playing with myself Vezina Trophy Discussion, the Penguins’ depth players have shown they can make solid contributions without their Hall of Famer teammates, and Mike Sullivan is as crafty as the NHL coach is right now. Calling them one of the most popular teams doesn’t guarantee anything, but the NHL’s most successful team of the 21st century has everything it takes to go all the way again. Even finishing the quartet championship is easier said than done.

data by Hockey Reference, Natural Statistics Skills, and NHL.

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Marko is an aspiring sports writer with a passion for creating stories that combine visual testing and (shuddering) analysis, complemented by an academic background in criminology and political science.

When not covering the Colorado Avalanche and the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey writer, also sees him devoting countless hours to various sports video game franchises, indulging in science fiction, and running long distances in his community.

Marko can be reached via his personal blog Unexpected, you can pass follow him on twitter and other social media seen under the article like this.

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