Annually, it’s the MLB trade deadline. Steelers training camp is always open this time of year. And yes, July 30 is “Crosby-versary Day.”
Rarely is Evgeni Malkin’s birthday properly recognized.
The Penguins superstar turns 32 today. So, in lieu of the yearly parade down Fifth Avenue that Geno so richly deserves, this montage will have to suffice. None of us are going to be able to give Malkin any gifts. So let’s tip our cap by looking at some of the gifts he has given us.
Here are my top five favorite Malkin goals during his Penguins career.
5. Lightning crashes — Feb. 25, 2012
I was in the press box for this one as the Penguins were in the middle of blowing out Tampa. You could see a crease open up right at the offensive blue line and the whole building started to rise, wondering what Malkin was going to do with the puck as he was winding up with speed through the neutral zone.
A few seconds later, the whole Lightning defense was left in his wake.
That was part of a hat trick that night. Too bad he wasn’t on the ice against them the previous playoff season.
4. Pickpocket — Nov. 28, 2015
When Malkin is in one of his motivated modes of being dedicated to all three zones, he is excellent at turning defense into offense. He loves the “lift the stick” move and then countering off a strip in transition.
None was better than this one against Edmonton, when he was mad after going into the first intermission down 2-0. Just ask Oscar Klefbom.
The spin-o-rama on Anders Nilsson wasn’t bad either.
3. Beating the Caps — May 9, 2009
This one isn’t remembered for artistry. Heck, he didn’t even score off his own stick. But in terms of importance, it’s one I’ll always remember from Malkin.
That won Game 5 for the Penguins en route to eliminating the Capitals in seven and winning the Stanley Cup title in 2009.
It wasn’t pretty. He was just trying to feed Sidney Crosby on the power play, and it went off a diving stick. But the subtlety of how he settled down that pass and got so “quick-to-speed” around Sergei Fedorov is always forgotten.
2. Take that, Philly — May 9, 2008
Geno was angry. And no one wants to be near Geno when he is angry.
Mike Richards smoked Malkin into the boards during this Eastern Conference quarterfinal game. But it was Martin Biron who felt Malkin’s revenge.
Malkin hammering that slapshot was the quintessential “Angry Geno” moment. “Knock me into the boards, will you? Forget some silly stick handling. Take that, Philthadelphia.”
1. “The Geno” — May 21, 2009
When a goal is simply named after your nickname, little more needs to be said.
Game Two. Eastern Conference Final, 2009. Malkin versus the Hurricanes to complete the hat trick.
When they build the Malkin statue somewhere near PPG Paints Arena, Cam Ward is going to need to be in bronze like Rich Pilon and Jeff Norton are for the Mario Lemieux one outside the front gate.
And he better be OK with that.