It’s no secret that Evgeni Malkin is having the best season of his career, which is quite something when you consider that he already has a Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe award to his credit. Even with those in his personal photo album of awesome, he’s still never looked better.
From his first appearance in this pre-season, Malkin has looked like a man ready to hit the echelon of the elite. Let’s make no mistake about this, he has always been an excellent talent, but Malkin has never been the first pick in everyone’s mental fantasy draft. These days, I’d have to think he is as close to a unanimous number one as we’re going to get.
The Winnipeg Jets got a crash course in epic breakaway dekes tonight when Malkin was sprung alone on poor Ondrej Pavelec. Malkin caught Dustin Byfuglien with his feet still, Chris Kunitz put a pass on his tape and Malkin did the rest of the work with beautiful deke and goal. On top of that, as the announcing team in the video so astutely pointed out, there is something eerily Lemieux like about the way Malkin looks when he puts the moves on Pavelec.
Take a look and see for yourselves.
See what I mean here? Just the way he’s holding his stick, the way he handles the puck and the way he digs right into the ice is identical to the way Super Mario scored some of his finest. To use a famous example:
On a more profound level, the similarities between Lemieux and Malkin extend well beyond the team they play for and breakaway dekes. The fact of the matter is that they are now both squarely in the category of “Most dominant players of a generation.” Malkin was on the cusp just a couple years ago, and he has catapulted himself into the upper echelon of this era with what will go down as a very memorable season.
Now he just needs a snazzy, video game tribute nickname. Get on it, Nintendo.