On Tuesday night in Edmonton the hype was all about Sidney Crosby versus Connor McDavid. Neither Crosby nor McDavid disappointed in a thrilling game that was eventually won in overtime by, arguably, one of the top five goals of Crosby???s career.
???? SIDNEY ???? CROSBY ???? IS ???? SUPER ???? HUMAN ???? pic.twitter.com/bS3fxzhrHN
??? Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) October 24, 2018
However, once the game was over and the statistics were updated, they showed Evgeni Malkin tied for the NHL lead in points per game with McDavid. Both have recorded 13 points through their teams??? first seven games played. Malkin often plays second fiddle in these marquee match-ups, but he quietly goes about his business and his name can usually be found in the top-ten in NHL points by season’s end. He’s actually finished in the top 20 in scoring nine times in his career, twice leading the league in points.
Last week, Malkin recorded his 939th career point moving him into sole possession of 100th place on the NHL???s all-time points list. If he repeats his 98 points from last season, Malkin would skyrocket all the way to 80th place by season’s end and surpass names like Chris Chelios, Paul Kariya, and Pat LaFontaine. Meanwhile, Crosby could wind up at 46th place in all-time points by season???s end if he repeats his 89 point output from last season. The numbers from this dynamic duo are sometimes taken for granted, but when it comes to Malkin he is, perhaps, taken for granted even more so. Malkin has always been overshadowed by Crosby in Pittsburgh, but he doesn???t seem to mind. However, if Malkin were drafted by a team like Arizona or Columbus he would already be the greatest player in that franchise’s history. Look no further than the NHL 100 list to illustrate how Malkin is often overlooked or overshadowed.
If you???ll recall, the NHL announced the 100 greatest players of all-time as part of the league???s Centennial celebration in 2017. The list was based on the input of a 58-person committee consisting of media members, NHL team executives, and former players. When Malkin moved into 100th place in all-time points last week, it seemed to rekindle some old ill feelings of fans towards the NHL selection committee of the NHL 100.
Sure, no list is ever going to be perfect and every list will spark debate, but it is tough to believe that at the time of the list being announced Duncan Keith was more deserving than Malkin. One could even argue that Malkin was more deserving than Jonathan Toews or Patrick Kane who both made the list. At the time the list was announced, Malkin had won two Stanley Cups, on his way to a third, a Lester B. Pearson Award, two Art Ross Trophies, and a Hart Trophy. At the time he also ranked 14th in NHL history in points per game; a mark which he???s actually improved upon and currently ranks 12th, averaging 1.192 points per game in his career. In case you???re wondering, Crosby ranks sixth all-time in this category, averaging 1.289 points per game.
There???s no going back in time, but surely Malkin not being included in the NHL 100 was one of the greatest snubs in hockey history. His snub ranked right up there with Mario Lemieux being denied the Hart Trophy in 1989 when he recorded 199 points, 31 more than Wayne Gretzky, yet Gretzky won the award. But that is a different topic for another day.
Looking further into Malkin???s magnificence, he currently ranks 22nd all-time in playoff points per game at 1.044. In fact, Malkin and Crosby are the only two active players in the top-25 in all-time playoff points per game; Crosby ranks eighth all-time at 1.156. Further, on the all-time points list there are only five active players, Malkin (100th), Crosby (60th), Patrick Marleau (55th), Alex Ovechkin (54th), and Joe Thornton (16th). The all-time goals list finds Malkin just out of the top 100 of all-time at 118th, but again there are only seven active players in the top 120, Malkin (118th), Eric Staal and Joe Thornton tied at 96th, Crosby (86th), Ilya Kovalchuk (81st), Marleau (33rd), and Ovechkin (17th).
Every once in a while it???s good to put things into perspective and illustrate how lucky Penguins fans have been to have Malkin embrace the role of the ???second-best??? player on his team for over a decade. In fact, the argument could probably be made that Malkin is probably the number one player in NHL history at playing second fiddle.