Evgeni Malkin scored in his 1000th NHL game as the Penguins topped the Chicago Blackhawks but is the Russian underrated in the pantheon of hockey greats?
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Let's get to Evgeni Malkin and the fact that he played his 1,000th career NHL game this week. I'm sure we all saw him in warm-up, where he's doing his little leg stretches, and everyone else followed suit with the V formation they got going on with the legs. Good for them.
Do you all think he's underrated? I feel like he's like severely underrated, considering the fact that he's gonna be a Hall of Famer, but he's not on that like NHL 100 thing they had going on five years ago. At one point I thought, when Crosby was injured, and he had all those concussions-- he had to play for him. He played like the best player in the world. This is a guy who's really good, but I don't feel as if enough people are rating him that highly.
That's just my feeling. I don't know how everyone else feels about Evgeni Malkin on the Zone Time panel. Omar, do you have any thoughts on Evgeni Malkin? Do you want to share?
- I do, but I want to give the floor to everyone else first, 'cause--
JULIAN MCKENZIE: OK, fair.
- --that question is great blasphemy.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Blasphemy? That's a big word.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: OK. Sam, Avry, do you want to take that first, or do you want to let Omar just go in?
AVRY LEWIS-MCDOUGALL: I'll jump in.
SAM CHANG: No, you go first.
AVRY LEWIS-MCDOUGALL: Yeah, Malkin is underrated. You don't hear him on as many top-10 lists or top-100 lists of all players, like you should, which is dumb because the man-- you mentioned there, Julian, 1,000 games played. He's crossed the 1,000-point barrier. He's had multiple 40-goal seasons. He's got Stanley Cups to his name.
And yet we don't hear him among the top 10, top 5 players. It's really weird because he's been, consistently, one of the better players in Penguins history. And to me, he's one of the best players in hockey history, bar none. So he deserves way more respect put upon his name.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Why is it, when you said put respect on his name, I'm just thinking Birdman in the studio, just [INAUDIBLE].
I ain't gonna say it no more. Just thinking.
Sam, do you also agree he's underrated?
SAM CHANG: Yeah, I think he's underrated. It's weird that he doesn't make those top-10 lists because, I was gonna say, he has the downside of having to play with Crosby, but also, at the same time, the primary rivalry there was with Ovechkin, and so everyone wants to talk about Crosby and Ovechkin. But it is weird to me that he doesn't make the rest of those lists. It would be like focusing only on [INAUDIBLE] or [INAUDIBLE] and just being like, yeah, whatever, the other guy's OK.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Evgeni Malkin's set himself up as-- maybe not set himself up, but he's been placed as, forever, the second best or the number two option. It was the case in the '04 draft, when he was drafted behind Ovechkin, and it was the case in Pittsburgh, as you mentioned before, with him playing with Sidney Crosby. He's a Player 2 type of guy when he shouldn't have been a Player 2 type of guy. He could easily be a Player 1 on so many other franchises in the NHL.
All right, it's time to hear Omar's take on this topic. And I brought snacks, people, so--
- Good, good.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: --I hope everyone else is prepared, as I am.
- So the question is, is Evgeni Malkin underrated? No.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: What?
- I have watched Evgeni Malkin murder my team since he was drafted. Evgeni Malkin I'm gonna read this verbatim in 42 games against the Leafs in 42 games has 24 goals and 44 assists for 68 points. Every time this man faces the Leafs, he is guaranteed at least a goal, and maybe more. He's murdered the Leafs. I'm pretty sure, looking at all the splits, yeah, he has more points against other teams. But the rate of them, the points per game, is dismantling.
So from that sense, no, he's not underrated, because literally every game, I see the excellence. I see the skill. I see him take over. And the point I was brought up earlier about the seasons where Crosby's been out. Malkin has found ways to take his game to the next level. And I think he even won the Hart one of those years.
So when it comes to the entire package, he is not underrated whatsoever. He has destroyed my team. I've watched the greatness. And again, he's been able to take the team and put the team on his back in the event that Crosby is out. And even though we make the comparison all the time, Crosby versus Malkin, but when Crosby's not there, Malkin steps up, and Malkin is there. So no, I don't think he's underrated.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: So he's sufficiently rated.
- I would say yeah. I would say he's sufficient-- OK, in the grand scheme of the league, he definitely is not talked about enough, for sure, so I'll say it in that sense. But as a Leafs fan, I saw that question, and I was like--
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Hey. Hold on, hold on, hold on, soldier. But I don't know if you can say that. I don't know if you can say that on this show. We can get away with a lot of words on this show. I don't know if whatever you just said is allowed.
- I said, but what is this?
JULIAN MCKENZIE: No, no, I don't mean you. I don't mean you. I meant what Avry said. We might have to put a bleep on that. I don't know.
- So yeah, man, Malkin has had a crazy career. But it's hard for me to call him underrated because, again, I don't know what it is, man, but he just frickin' snaps against us, just takes the game over. Whether Crosby's in or Crosby isn't, Malkin is the best player on Pittsburgh when they're facing the Leafs. So it's really hard to say that he's underrated, personally, but I think, league-wide, he definitely, definitely does not get enough credit. And maybe after the day comes when he does retire, maybe we'll start talking about him a little more, which is sad. Isn't it sad that we're getting to that age where the players that we grew up watching are retiring?
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Yeah.
AVRY LEWIS-MCDOUGALL: You mentioned Malkin. You know how we know he's old? His first year in the league, do you know who his first linemate was in the NHL? It was John--
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Wait, wait, wait. Oh, wow. Oh, are you gonna say John LeClair?
AVRY LEWIS-MCDOUGALL: John LeClair.
SAM CHANG: Wow.
AVRY LEWIS-MCDOUGALL: That's how old Malkin is now.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Wow. I was gonna try to guess. Dude, that is--
SAM CHANG: I didn't realize he was that old.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: He's 36.
AVRY LEWIS-MCDOUGALL: Yeah.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Oh my god, dude.
AVRY LEWIS-MCDOUGALL: John LeClair was his first linemate in the league.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Oh my god.
SAM CHANG: Crazy.
AVRY LEWIS-MCDOUGALL: And Gary Roberts, too, on that team. It was LeClair.
- Oh my god.
AVRY LEWIS-MCDOUGALL: Gary Roberts was on that team. Sergei Gonchar.
- Jeez, man. Oh my god.
AVRY LEWIS-MCDOUGALL: He's been out here for a while.