PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) – Evgeni Malkin has struggled mightily during the Penguins’ run to the Stanley Cup Final, but as Martin Biron will tell you, it only takes one play for Malkin to turn things around.
The “NHL on TSN” analyst and former Flyers goaltender joined “The Fan Morning Show” on Monday to talk about the Stanley Cup Final. Biron dissected Malkin’s struggles, drawing one of his own personal encounters with Geno as a point of reference.
It was Game 1 of the 2008 Eastern Conference Finals between the Penguins and Flyers in Pittsburgh, and the Penguins led the game 3-2 early in the second period.
Malkin had a shorthanded breakaway opportunity, but he made a weak attempt to drive to the net, getting pokechecked and shoved aside easily by a Flyers defenseman. As Malkin tried to regain control of the puck, Flyers center Mike Richards leveled him, sending him flying backwards into the boards.
Biron, the Flyers’ goalie at the time, watched Malkin sitting on the ground behind him and thought Malkin had been rendered a non-factor.
“Geno was nowhere to be seen, and it was, like, pathetic,” Biron said. “You’re looking at him…and I’m like, wow, this is great, 71 is a non-factor right now.”
But, Biron learned the hard way that Malkin is never down for the count.
“It only took one play,” he said.
He wasn’t kidding – it took literally only one play.
Seconds later, the Penguins regained control of the puck, and Malkin was sprung free for another breakaway.
This time, he unleashed a mammoth slapshot past Biron, putting the Penguins up two goals and setting the tone in a dominant series win over Philadelphia.
“That kind of woke him up,” Biron said of the moment. “That shook him up…sometimes it just [takes] one moment in a game to wake a guy like Malkin up. And as soon as that happens, you see the contrast, you see the black-and-white difference that this guy can bring.”
Biron noticed a similar outburst from Malkin when the Penguins trailed 4-0 in Game 4 of this year’s Eastern Conference Finals against the Lightning, and thinks that the Penguins need more of the Malkin they got in that game.
“All of a sudden, Malkin took over, and they came back, 4-1, 4-2, 4-3,” Biron said. “And it wasn’t because, wow, he’s playing well defensively, wow, he’s backchecking. No, he was just a beast in the offensive zone, and that is what you want from Malkin – using his strength, using his creativity.”
The interview can be heard here: