This Malkin kid, he may not be half bad.
It took Evgeni Malkin about 3/4 of the first period to get rolling, but once he did, he put on a show. Great hands, effortless speed, and no fear of the middle of the ice. (Although it may take a few highlight-reel shoulder checks to teach him to keep his head up.) And God help any goalie who gets in the way of his slapshot. A third period blast whistled over Martin Brodeur's left shoulder and broke the glass next to the goal judge's booth. From opposite end of the rink, it sounded like a gunshot.
His first NHL goal was good news, bad news. The good news was that it was at home, in front of a roaring, SRO sellout crowd. The bad news was that, as career highlight videos go, it was pretty ugly. Brodeur had just chest-blocked a Mark Recchi wrist shot from the right circle, and dropped to his hands and knees to cover the puck, but he didn't have it under his mitt like he thought he did. Malkin saw it, and more importantly, the referee saw it, so there was no whistle. Malkin simply poked at the puck from between Brodeur's arms, and it trickled through the 5 hole and in.
Unfortunately, there's one thing that Malkin and Sidney Crosby have in common: Both debuts were spoiled by Brodeur. Like last year's season opener, the Penguins peppered Brodeur with shots, actually outshooting New Jersey 38-34, but had too few quality scoring chances. The Pens recovered from last Saturday's lazy game against Carolina, and gave New Jersey everything they could muster, but the Devils got the better of the play down low, leading to goals by Jay Pandolfo and Jamie Langenbrunner. New Jersey's disciplined play also helped, taking only one minor penalty in the entire game.
Final score: Devils 2, Penguins 1, number of times some guy behind me called Malkin "Jorge" before somebody corrected him: 6. (Malkin's teammates nicknamed him "Geno". Um, "Jorge" and "Geno" both have "G" in them somewhere…)
Stars of the game:
- Martin Brodeur (37/38)
- Jamie Langenbrunner (1G, GWG)
- Evgeni Malkin (1G)