After the Penguins lost game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals, the default trend was to say “Pittsburgh’s top guys need to be more involved”.
True enough, but to involve them we’re always told the big time players should get more ice time in big time games. The more meaningful the game, the more Crosby and Malkin need to play. This was the media message leading up to game 4.
That’s too easy. If it was that easy, we’d only dress two lines and a coach wouldn’t even need to be there. Every star is different, and every star contributes in a different way. To cover everyone with the same blanket is simply wrong.
Rarely is the statement backed up with any type of statistic. It’s just a given, a misconception that is mindlessly pushed because it’s just the way it is. It’s like saying “you need to play 60 minutes”. No you don’t. Teams have one good period and win all the time. The Penguins are a second period team and the Sharks are a third period team. What you need to be is opportunistic in key moments. We’ve seen it every game this series. One or two periods per game can and will win the Stanley Cup.
If teams are effective and win playing in pockets of time where they are opportunistic, why can’t individuals? Of course they do.
Case in point: Evgeni Malkin.
Here’s the reality.
21 games, 5G, 12A, 17P, 0.81PPG.
Of those 21 games:
7 games at 19 minutes or more:
1G, 2A, 3P, 0.42 PPG. Held scoreless 4 times (57%). Team record 0-4-1-2 (0 regulation wins, 4 regulation losses, 1OT win, 2OT losses). Team goals for – 2.14, team goals against – 3.14.
6 games at between 17-19 minutes:
1G, 4A, 5P, 0.83 PPG. Held scoreless twice (33%). Team record 2-0-2-1.
Team GF – 2.83, Team GA – 2.0.
8 games at 17 minutes or less:
3G, 4A, 7P, 1.12 PPG. Held scoreless 1 time (0.125%). Team record 7-0-1-0(zero losses of any kind). Team GF – 3.75, Team GA – 1.63.
Dan Rosen at NHL.com is almost kind of catching on to this. It was mentioned in 2 articles today after Malkin came to life and got an assist and a goal in the 3-1 win in game 4, including the game winning goal.
Here is my tweet after Monday night’s final whistle:
“Great win for the Pens. Malkin came through big time. 1A, GWG. All in just 14:23 ice time. :39 shift average”.
Here’s what appeared on NHL.com:
“Malkin has sacrificed ice time in Sullivan’s attempt to make the Penguins a four-line team. He had an assist and the game-winning goal in Game 4 and played 14:30.”
Last night Rosen wrote an article on Malkin and said this:
“He did it all in only 14:30 of ice time, a low mark for him since his 12:56 of ice time in Game 4 against the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference First Round, which also happened to be his only other truly dominant game in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.”
You read that right folks. 12:56, his only other dominant game (2G, 2A). Both times Malkin has been the difference maker he played less than 15 minutes. In those two games, 71 had 6P for 3.0 PPG, and the team averaged 4.0 GF against 1.0GA. They obviously won both of these games.
It’s great to see the idea of this finally reaching mainstream media. You can see my detailed explanation of Malkin’s ice time chronicling results from January 1 to present day in my other two articles: