Road to the Rocket Richard

All the talk of Phil Kessel getting Hart Trophy votes and Sidney Crosby’s 400th goal have overshadowed another legitimate possibility.  Evgeni Malkin winning the Rocket Richard this season. Just two goals out from the top spot, it’s something to get excited for.

Of course, being overlooked and taken for granted is not anything new for Malkin, but after winning player of the month in January and following up with player of the week for the opening of February, it’s impossible to ignore him. Malkin is the hottest player in hockey.

During his current 31 goal season, Malkin has been nothing but spectacular. Even at 31, he still leaves us saying “wow” on some of his plays. Like this one from Tuesday:

That’s what we get from him. En route to his scoring, Malkin contributes with a dynamic style. He’ll kill you in front of the net, on the power play, or simply just a wrist shot on a quick rush. Once the defense has an answer for him, Geno comes up with another way to defeat you.

For one game, he’s stick handling through everyone to go one on one with the goalie, and the next game you suffer from his shot placement from a spot you wouldn’t think people shoot from.

Malkin has a well known litany of awards and accomplishments, surprisingly though the Rocket Richard Trophy is not one of these.  A key tribute to his success of course is that he’s stayed on the ice, playing in 54 of 58 games this season.

This is something that has impeded Malkin’s regular seasons stats. Between the last five years from 2013-2018, Malkin has failed to reach even 70 games, having an average of 65 games played, with a high of 69 in 2014-2015. He always shows up and is there come playoff time though, that’s for sure.

Yet however, with all that said about the lack of long term regular season games, in the two seasons he won his Hart Trophy (2012) and two Art Ross trophies (09′, 12′), he played 82 (2009) and 75 games (20012). Malkin is on pace to accomplish that this season.

He could also join Crosby as a Rocket Richard winner, and be the first pair of teammates to win the trophy in consecutive years since the award’s inception. The Penguins do know a thing or two about going back to back.

There’s no reason to believe Geno won’t stop scoring goals and points at a rampant pace with his skilled talent. By remaining on the ice, he can accomplish another milestone.

His career regular season best is 50 goals, that can be reached with 24 games left to go. Personal bests are great,  but they’re much nicer when you have some new extra hardware to put next to your Cups and trophies of value.

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