Despite a loss in Evgeni Malkin’s return on Saturday, the Pittsburgh Penguins should be excited about the future with their star forward finally healthy.
The Pittsburgh Penguins have been one of the NHL’s most resilient teams this season, overcoming plenty of bad luck to sit at 8-5-1 after Saturday’s loss to the Edmonton Oilers. The record, while not great, could be a whole lot worse, especially when considering that the Penguins have been without star Evgeni Malkin for most of the season until Saturday, that is. In his return to the ice, Malkin looked solid, and though Pittsburgh lost a tough one, his presence is a reason for plenty of excitement moving forward.
Malkin was aggressive in his return, particularly with his shot. Though he didn’t find the back of the net, he tied for the team lead in shots on goal with six, showing an urgency that the Penguins could use. Unfortunately for Malkin and the entire Penguins team, Oilers’ goaltender Mike Smith played a tremendous game, keeping Pittsburgh at just one goal despite having an overtime period. That said, Malkin had a handful of promising opportunities, and there’s a good chance that against another goaltender, he would have scored. For a guy returning from a pretty severe injury, that’s about all you can ask.
With their Center returning the lineup, the Penguins are a better, more talented team. Even though the backups have played well, there is simply no substitution for a player of Malkin’s caliber. He’s just a difference-maker, and the attitude he brings to the arena is refreshing. For a team that is hoping to return to a status NHL’s elite, the return of Malkin certainly makes that goal easier.