"Those are incredible displays of hand-puck skills, much to the chagrin of his coach," said Dan Bylsma, who actually is his coach, as he sat in a Boston hotel lobby last month. "Coming out of the [defensive] zone, he'll go underneath a guy's stick three, four times a game, into the triangle. Sometimes he looks like he's doing it for pleasure. Just because he can, you know? Everybody in the world would think it's a bad move, but he's done it 18 times in the last five games, and it's gone wrong once. Kinda tough for me to say, 'No, don't do it.'"
Bylsma worries about Malkin although, in truth, the consternation is directed inward rather than at his player. Bylsma wonders if he bores him. He senses Malkin always knows what he is going to say on the bench or in meetings, just like the center already knows what a defender will do on the ice. Or should do, anyway. When Malkin botches the Triangle Move, it usually is because the defender has made the wrong play, or at least the unanticipated play, rather than the play Malkin already had factored into his personal equation.
"[The Red Wings' Pavel] Datsyuk's a great player, but he'll look to pass first," says Coyotes' development coach Dave King, who coached Malkin for one season with Metallurg Magnitogorsk in the former Russian Super League. "And [the Capitals' Alex] Ovechkin, he'll look to shoot, which is unlike so many of the Russians and what makes him so unusual. [Malkin] keeps you honest."
"I think Geno puts more pressure on his shoulders being the main guy," Letang says. "With Sid out, teams are paying more attention to him. They're playing him harder. And he likes that. Some guys want it easy. He wants it hard. He loves the pressure. He loves to bring the A game when there's a lot of adversity."
I thought the article was a more thoughtful approach to some old ideas. Mainly, how his injury brought about some maturing, and how he's emerging from the shadows.
I really hope this is the year Geno wins the Hart trophy and becomes recognized as one of the greatest hockey players in the world. When Malkin is in beast mode it is a pleasure to watch that mixture of skill and size, very marioesque.