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Evgeni Malkin is the NHL’s Player of the Month for December

Jan 1, 2012, 3:32 PM EDT

Evgeni Malkin AP

After moving up the league’s scoring leaderboard and keeping the Sidney Crosby-less Penguins among the Eastern Conference’s elite, Pittsburgh center Evgeni Malkin was named the NHL’s first star for December.

It was a month to remember for the 25-year-old Russian. He finished with 20 points in 13 games and was on a tear during Pittsburgh’s four-game winning streak late in the month, posting three goals and eight assists. With Crosby out, Malkin assumed a bigger on-ice role and logged some huge ice time — last time out against New Jersey, he played just a shade under 24 minutes.

Second star went to Tampa Bay sniper Steve Stamkos (who’s tied for fifth in league scorng with Malkin.) Stamkos scored 10 goals in December to move atop the NHL leaderboard — during Tampa’s current three-game winning streak, Stamkos has scored six times and posted the game-winning tallies against the Flyers and Hurricanes.

Third star went to Vancouver’s Henrik Sedin, who currently leads the NHL with 46 points. Sedin was the catalyst for Vancouver’s 10-4-1 December record —  while he didn’t score a ton of goals (two) he did register an eye-popping 20 assists. Perhaps most impressively, Sedin registered an assist in all but two of Vancouver’s 15 games this month — that includes six multi-assist outings and a trio of three-assist efforts.

  1. me6661973 - Jan 1, 2012 at 4:36 PM

    Cant beat the flyers!
    lol he like crybaby overrated hurt all the time!

    • pens919209 - Jan 1, 2012 at 7:19 PM

      Hmm, he did a good job against the Flyers in ’08 and ’09 playoffs… and has a Cup ring to show for it.

      Exactly when was the last time the Flyers won a Cup? You gotta win when it counts.

  2. taz101 - Jan 1, 2012 at 4:57 PM

    You, again?! If you’re going to continually post -always bashing the Pens- could you please learn the English language?! You’re an embarrassment to the foreign-born Americans who have worked hard for so long to be accepted as true Americans (and Canadians, as well).
    If you can’t figure it out, please let your children post for you!!!

  3. danphipps01 - Jan 1, 2012 at 11:04 PM

    Yet again I have to wonder if the Pens might be better not resigning Crosby. Malkin plays better when he’s the go-to guy under pressure, and if Crosby comes back and gets hurt again, or worse, doesn’t come back at all… well, even considering who we’re talking about, investing just under nine million dollars a season in him would be foolish. He needs to come back and play at least twenty or thirty games without injury concerns before it becomes a relatively safe move to invest the team’s long-term cap future in him. If not… hell, it’s crazy, but the smartest move to make is to let him go. It’s like Andrei Markov. Look where signing him long-term is getting the Canadiens. They have no money to fill their defense – they spent it all on Markov!

    Good news is, they’ve got another year to wait and see, and if this pattern repeats once or twice more… well, I imagine it would make the decision easier to make. Dunno how they’re gonna find the money to sign Neal long-term, though. Forty-goal scorers ain’t cheap, and he’s on track to be one for the Pens. They’re already relying on bargain contracts with almost all their wingers to pay their top three centres so much. Something has to give… and they don’t want it to be Neal.

  4. pensswag91 - Jan 2, 2012 at 5:47 AM

    Malkin has proven, in the time Crosby has been out, that he is the more dominant player. Contract talks with Crosby shouldn’t even be a part of the Penguins’ plans until later next season, when they’ve had a chance to assess his physical state. While I agree that Crosby will definitely not be worth the nine million dollars he has been the past few years, I do think he could be a great asset at a much lower price; and I’m sure Crosby is very much aware of this.

    Crosby definitely isn’t the best player for the Penguins anymore; yet he has already left his mark on the league and the franchise. He kept the Penguins in Pittsburgh, had a few great seasons, won a Stanley Cup as the youngest captain, and had been a key piece to the rebuilding of this great team. Even if his concussion problems remain, he is still a dominant player (when on the ice); and for that he is a valuable asset to any team.

    Despite Crosby’s noted strengths and skill on the ice, he is still very injury prone. This is why I believe that the Pens shouldn’t jump into a new contract too quickly; they need to focus on keeping the team around him great. Neal is a great young player who has a lot of promise to be a 40 goal scorer many times in his career, Staal is one of the most underrated players in the league, Malkin is progressing to be the best player in the NHL, and the Pens have a strong young defensive corps that will need to be paid as such sometime soon.

    The Penguins still have Crosby for another year, let’s see how this goes…

    • danphipps01 - Jan 2, 2012 at 6:38 AM

      I think you’re underrating Crosby a fair bit here, but sheer risk factor nonetheless leaves your conclusions essentially correct. I still figure he’s got the highest sheer skill level amongst active players, but since whether or not he actually IS an active player seems to be completely up in the air most of the time… yeah, I’d put my faith in Malkin to carry the load. Another idea occurs, though – amazingly, Capgeek has it that Crosby’s contract has a no-movement clause that applies only in 2012-13. Basically, if Shero’s got balls of steel and can get the deal he wants, he could go down in history as the man who traded Sidney Crosby as long as it happens before the start of next season. I’d sooner wait next season out, myself – unless he misses the rest of this one, in which event, trade it is – but it’s an interesting option to keep on the table. Whether he’s injury-prone or not, whether he plays again at all this season or not, half the teams in the NHL would still be willing to trade big chips for him, especially if his contract expires in a year anyway. If it doesn’t pan out for them, hell, at least they’re not anchored to him long-term like the Isles are to Rick DiPietro, right?

      One wonders what Shero will do. Still, nothing for US to do but wait and see if Crosby rebounds or continues to struggle just to stay healthy and capable.

  5. pensswag91 - Jan 2, 2012 at 7:20 AM

    Not meaning to underrate Crosby in any way because he is definitely the most skilled player currently in the NHL, but I believe that Malkin is developing into a better player in the long run. Whether Crosby’s concussion issues remain prevalent or not, Malkin very well may end up a greater player than Crosby. Malkin thrives in Crosby’s absence, which may or may not be a sign of Crosby’s hindrance to Malkin’s development as a force in the league. Really, everything hinges on whether or not Crosby can return from this concussion the same player he went into it as; judging from his short-lived return, he very well could be. I think everyone should wait a bit before rushing to conclusions about the future of Crosby with the Pens, there is still quite a bit of time left in this season to determine their needs going into the future.

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