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|9 декабря 2006
Making a difference with Malkin // Tribune-Review
By Karen Price
ATLANTA -- For the first time since Evgeni Malkin became a member of the Penguins, coach and player sat down for a little one-on-one before practice Friday at Philips Arena.
No translator was present. None was needed.
Coach Michel Therrien had thought of another way to get his point across to his young Russian protege. He showed Malkin photographs of great players, some of the best to ever play hockey, and then he pointed to Malkin.
"Mario Lemieux is a different player. Jaromir Jagr is a different player,"
Therrien said. "Evgeni has got to understand he's a different player."
Therrien singled out Malkin, 20, both before and after the Penguins' shootout loss to the New York Rangers on Thursday, saying that Malkin had to pick it up.
Yesterday he clarified that he is not dissatisfied with Malkin, who earned his second consecutive NHL rookie of the month honor in November and is the team's second-leading scorer.
Therrien simply wants Malkin to realize that there is a whole other level to his game, one he demonstrated when Sidney Crosby was out of the lineup for three games with a groin injury, and that they need him to play that way even now that Crosby is back.
"I don't want him to get in the mode where (he says), 'Sid's there; go ahead Sid. I'm behind you,' " Therrien said. "No, no. I want him to be beside Sid, not following. That's our plan. That's why we have two lines. ... He's a huge part of our team, and I want him side-by-side (with Crosby)."
Malkin scored a goal in each of the three games that Crosby, 19, was out of the lineup at the end of November. The Penguins were 0-1-2 in that time, but Malkin's play was noticeably more dominant as the No. 1 center with Mark Recchi and Colby Armstrong on the wings.
In the five games since Crosby's return, Malkin has only one goal.
Therrien doesn't believe that Malkin is intimidated by Crosby, but neither does he want Malkin to ease up or try to be anything less than the best player on the ice.
"My role as a coach is to make sure that he pushes himself and understands he's one of those special players," Therrien said. "He's proven that he's capable to be a dominant player in the league, and that's my goal. I want him to be a dominant player."
For the third time this season, Malkin is in a three-game goal drought. He's never gone more than three games without a goal, and Crosby believes it's just one of those stretches where the puck's simply not going in.
"He's had a couple times where the goalie's made a big save on him," Crosby said. "He's a goal scorer. He's a pure goal scorer. You don't just lose that overnight. Things will turn around, and maybe five games from now we're talking about how he's got six goals in five games. He just has to keep putting the puck on net. He keeps doing that, he'll be fine."
Therrien moved Armstrong to Malkin's line with Erik Christensen for Thursday's game, hoping to regain some of that chemistry that Malkin had playing with Armstrong and Recchi. The line will likely stay together for tonight's game against the Atlanta Thrashers, when the Penguins try to snap an 0-3-1 winless streak.
"Malkin's got to be one of those guys who makes a difference in the game," Therrien said. "And he will. I know he will.