It is rare to have so many great centres in one game, but tonight’s tilt features three first ballot Hall of Fame players, although one of them has always been under-hyped. Sidney Crosby has been the talk of the NHL since bursting on the scene in 2005/2006, and Connor McDavid is the new face of the league after winning back-to-back scoring titles.
Those two are exceptional players and deserve all the accolades they receive, but Evgeni Malkin is probably the least talked about superstar the NHL has right now.
1. Since Malkin entered the NHL in 2006/2007 his and Crosby’s numbers are very close.
Crosby has played 789 games and has 372 goals. In 790 games Malkin has 373 goals. In those 12 seasons and six games this year, Crosby has 1,019 points while Malkin has 942. Up until McDavid arrived they were the two best centres in the NHL. But Crosby has always received more fanfare. Crosby was the best centre, but Malkin was right behind him.
2. Since 2006/2007, here are the leaders in points-per-game among players with 200 games played.
Crosby: 1.29 PPG in 789 games.
McDavid: 1.24 PPG in 215 games.
Malkin: 1.19 PPG in 790 games.
Alex Ovechkin: 1.10 PPG in 929 games.
Martin St.Louis: 1.03 PPG in 690 games.
Patrick Kane: 1.01 PPG in 830 games.
Pavel Datsyuk: 1.01 PPG in 669 games.
They were the only players who averaged more than a point-per-game, yet somehow Malkin wasn’t included in the top-100 players of all-time. He has been laughably underappreciated. Malkin won the Art Ross twice, the Hart once, the Ted Lindsay once, the Calder in 2007, the Conn Smythe in 2009 and three Stanley Cups. Enjoy the battle between McDavid and Crosby, but don’t forget about Malkin. He is unreal as well.
3. I think it is unfair to suggest Leon Draisaitl can be like Malkin. I have no doubt Draisaitl can be very good, but I don’t see him in Malkin’s category. I believe Draisaitl can be as good as Anze Kopitar, but if you are comparing him to Malkin you will be disappointed. Malkin is a first ballot Hall of Fame talent. That type of talent is rare. He is red-hot right now with 12 points in six games.
4. No doubt Draisaitl needs to be better though. And for me that is the most important factor. If he was making $7 million the Oilers would still need him to be doing more at 5×5, and that’s why I don’t focus on his salary. He needs to play better. He doesn’t have to dominate like McDavid, or Malkin, but he needs to do more than he has of late. He needs to work harder and smarter at even strength.
5. In six games this year Draisaitl is -7. He has been a minus in every game except the home game v. Boston. He was also -12 in the final seven games last year. That means in his last 13 games he is -19. I know +/- isn’t the best stat, and doesn’t tell the entire story, but in this case I think it matches with what we have seen. His CF% is 38.1%. His FF% is 41.2% and his SF% is only 38% through the first six games. He has been on the ice for 54 shots against and 34 for at 5×5. He is capable of doing more and he needs to get going.
6. Malkin has 7-8-15 in 13 games v. the Oilers. Crosby has 2-14-16 in 14 career games against Edmonton. The only team Crosby has scored fewer goals against in his career is Vegas, and he’s only played them three times. Crosby doesn’t have a goal yet this season, but he has five assists in six games.
7. The Oilers haven’t defeated the Penguins in regulation since January 10th, 2006, when they won 3-1 in Pittsburgh. The last time the Oilers won in regulation on home ice was December 6th, 2003 by a score of 4-3. Noted sniper Cory Cross tied the game 25 seconds into the third and then he assisted on Shawn Horcoff’s game winning goal. The Oilers are 1-5 v. the Penguins since McDavid was drafted, and funny enough their only victory occurred when McDavid was a rookie and sitting out with a broken clavicle. Edmonton won 3-2 in a shootout. Since the 2000/2001 season, the Oilers are 5-12-3 v. the Penguins.
8. The Penguins have the second best PK in the NHL right now at 92.8%. They are the least penalized team in the NHL. They have killed off 13 of 14 shorthanded situations. The Oilers have been shorthanded the third fewest times, 18, and after allowing three goals on their first six kills, Edmonton has only allowed one goal over their past four games (12 kills).
9. The Oilers (18) and Penguins (15) are 30th and 31st respectively in powerplay chances thus far, but both have been good on the few chances they get. The Oilers sit seventh at 27.8% and the Penguins are 10th at 26.7%. Both teams have been outscored at 5×5. Pittsburgh has been outscored 16-14, while Edmonton opponents have outscored them 11-6. Both teams would like to find more offence at 5×5.
10. Kris Letang has had an excellent start. He is second in the NHL in goals by a D-man with four and he is fourth in points with eight. The Oilers entire blueline has combined for one goal and seven points in six games.
Recently by Jason Gregor:
- Who gets the Honour to play with Connor
- GDB 5.0: Home Opener
- GDB Game Notes: Oilers vs Bruins
- Oil Change: 20 Minutes of Fire
- GDB 4.0: Going to Winnipeg
- Game Notes: Oilers @ Jets
Source: NHL, Official Game Page, 10/23/2018 – 7:00 am MT