Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Where is Evgeni Malkin?

Many questions hang in the air surrounding the Penguins after a season of front office upheaval.  While no one is sure how things will play out until the puck finally drops next week there is one question that needs answering now:

Where is Evgeni Malkin?

A Penguins team filled with injuries is something Penguins fans have become accustomed to.  Not knowing what's going on with those players is not.  The previous regime made a habit of at least giving minor updates on the status of injured players in a nebulous.  This?  This is different.

This is uncertainty.  This is a player missing out on training camp when it's most important.  This isn't Malkin going in and knowing the system, knowing the staff, knowing what is expected. Right now Evgeni Malkin is missing out on learning a new system and the tics and foibles of a new coaching staff.  This is Malkin missing the very basic building blocks of the coming season.

Malkin is not the kind to blow these things off.  He's not one to take the easy road to success.  His recovery from a serious knee injury shows this.  This seems something more.  This drives one to concern towards something more serious than just being dinged up and knocked around.

Knock the hyperbole of previous Rob Rossi columns but he's absolutely right about one thing: Without Evgeni Malkin the Penguins are shot.  He and Crosby make up the heart and soul of this team.; now more than ever, they are needed.

Crosby may be that which gets the blood flowing through the team, the being which all passes through, but Malkin remains the spark that gives the team life.  With Crosby the Penguins are good. With Crosby AND Malkin the Penguins are great.

His play, when he's dedicated and buys in, is near untouched in terms of skill.  Without Malkin, the Penguins are not contenders. Without Malkin the Penguins are a step slow. Without Malkin the Penguins are not, the Penguins.

No practice, no preseason games.  There's no denying Malkin's WANT.  There are questions about where he stands.  Heading into the season is the time to have those questions but in an ideal world there is no worry.  Unfortunately this is not ideal.

There are things fans need to know about the 2014-15 Pittsburgh Penguins.  Right now the biggest and most important is, "Is Evgeni Malkin okay?"  To truly succeed the Penguins need their dynamic Russian.  Knowing that they'll have him is great.  Not knowing when?  That's an issue.
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