Best player beating best goalie?

BREAKING: Evgeni Malkin is now the NHL’s points leader.

This is not up for dispute as having the more points than everyone else is a pretty good barometer for who the top scorer is. However, I’m now starting to think that Evgeni Malkin is the best player in the world (his concussed teammate notwithstanding).

Sid vs. Ovie? Perhaps we had the wrong Russian after all.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of Ovechkin, Steve Stamkos, Claude Giroux, Anze Kopitar, Jonathan Toews, Marian Gaborik, Phil Kessel (gas, meet fire), Shea Weber, Loui Eriksson and every other very talented player I don’t have the energy to list right now. If the NHL is suffering from anything, it’s not from a bevvy of talent – you talk to the KHL about that. With all of these guys in mind, I’m still thinking that Geno is the man with the plan when you’re ranking the NHL’s best right now.

Sid vs. Geno? That has a nice ring to it, too bad they’re on the same team.

The fact is that Malkin has been downright possessed since returning from a brutal season last year. He was a guy I had on my shortlist of bounceback players heading into 2011-12 and he’s been nothing but spectacular. From the first pre-season game he appeared in it was evident that he was bringing it this year and even with a couple of hiccups he has not disappointed.

Some stats for your consideration:
54 points in 39 games – Rougly 1.4 PPG
Six game winning goals
Points in 29 of 39 games without being held scoreless for more than two consecutive games.

To recap those above numbers, we have a guy who is:
a) Prolific
B) Clutch
C) Consistent

All of those things are hallmarks of a spectacular player.

Let’s not forget he’s got the requisite hardware that comes with said distinction. Not only does he have the Stanley Cup ring and gold medal, he’s got the Conn Smythe with his name on it sitting in his living room – make no mistake, he kept it, all others have been fake since – where he no doubt watches game film of himself making people silly.

We’ve talked every week now about how the latest Pens injury is surely going to be the one which buries them, yet, it’s largely due to the efforts of Malkin and Marc-Andre Fleury that this team is not only keeping its head above water, but dominating tough opponents. I, for one, didn’t think they would win tonight, but in a tight game heading into the third which guy came up with two goals to ice it for Pittsburgh? Evgeni Malkin. This isn’t a guy having a good game anymore. This is a pattern of behaviour.

Ovechkin gets the headlines and Bryzgalov gets the laughs, but let’s be honest here: Evgeni Malkin is the best Russian hockey player in the world and, as far as I’m concerned here, he’s better than anyone else playing the game in the world.

UPDATE WITH REALLY INTERESTING THOUGHT TWEETED AT ME:

That’s pretty compelling if you ask me. There’s a very good argument to be made that Lindros was the most dominant player on the earth during a stretch in the 1990s and Malkin is, by many accounts, playing at a level as high – if not higher – than Lindros ever did. Let’s not forget he has a fantastic supporting cast and the hardware to back him up. That’s a pretty good sign of how well you’re playing and an even better sign that you’re probably the best hockey player on the planet.