Evgeni Malkin is coming of a star-crossed 2019-20 season in which he bounced back from a disappointing 2018-19 with 74 points in 55 games only to have the season shut down. When it finally resumed, Malkin was the best player in Training Camp 2.0 only to fizzle as the 5th seeded Penguins were embarrassed by 12-seed Montreal.
So, once again, Malkin is going into a season (his 15th) with plenty to prove and if the last 10 days are any indication, he is healthy, rested and ready to go. His line has been the best in camp.
Malkin finally made his long-awaited appearance on a post-practice Zoom call and, as always, Geno did not disappoint.
The beginning when Malkin jokingly hoped for a 2-minute interview (which is the Zoom era is one or two questions) then at the end when Pens VP of Media Relations Jen Bullano-Ridgely called on AT&T Sports’ Dan Potash and Geno said, “Oh, my man!” in mock horror.
Some of Malkin’s thoughts
56-game schedule – “It’s going to be a little bit harder but we’re going to be hungry after last season; we want it back. Of course we want to be in the playoffs and play better in the playoffs.”
Short training camp – “It’s always hard with no pre-season, but every team has the same rules and it’s reality now. I feel ok ay and I think I’m ready to play. I miss hockey a lot, haven’t played in a long time and I’m excited to play (Wednesday) in Philly.”
No fans – “Hopefully fans will be back next month; it’s a little surprising when you score and then it’s not loud.”
Still with Crosby and Letang – “We talk a lot together and we’re still hungry and we still want one more Cup for sure. We’re older and older every year and don’t know how many years we’ll play together.”
How he feels – “Haven’t played a game yet, but practice is fine; I’ve scored a couple goals. I have great experience, played a long time in this league and my body is really ready now.”
Centering Rust/Zucker – “I hope we stay together the whole season and help each other; I think we have a great line.”
Will team be faster – “It’s hard to say before we’ve played any games; we’ll try to be faster, play smarter, no turnovers on blue line, every puck we try to put behind the D.”
Enjoy the entire Zoom call … even if it lasted a little over 8 minutes, 6 minutes more than Geno’s stated goal.
By the way, here are the lines and defensive pairings Mike Sullivan has used the last few days so this is what the line-up should looks like in Wednesday’s opener in Philly, at least to start out.