Originally posted on Tonight's Healthy Scratches  |  Last updated 1/23/12

Sidney who?

In our inaugural podcast a few weeks ago, the THS editors discussed who might be the recipient of a few different awards had they been given out at the midway point of the season. Among our Hart Trophy finalists were Claude Giroux, Jonathan Toews and Henrik Lundqvist. We also made a brief mention of Evgeni Malkin.

Fast forward three weeks later, and it's the easiest award to give out. In light of absences to Sidney Crosby, Jordan Staal and Kris Letang, Malkin has returned to the unstoppable force that helped him win the Art Ross Trophy in the 2008-09 season.

Malkin's three points yesterday, including the overtime game-winner, helped the Penguins erase a 2-0 deficit and sink the Capitals, 4-3. In Pittsburgh's last six games, all wins, Malkin has eight goals (three game-winners) and 13 points.

During that stretch, the Russian sniper has carried his team from ninth place in the Eastern Conference to sixth, just two points behind the Ottawa Senators for fifth. They've also got two games in hand on the Sens.

Malkin's resurgence, while not shocking, is all the more impressive considering the questions that surrounded him heading into this season after a knee injury limited him to just 37 points in 43 games a year ago. It was the only time in his career he's averaged less than a point per game.

Rehabilitation was long, and a setback early on this season had Pittsburgh fans fearing the worst, already not knowing when their captain would return. Malkin missed seven games in October dealing with discomfort in the same surgically-repaired knee.

But since returning, Malkin has given the limping Penguins a hitch in their step. In 41 games this season, Malkin has a league-leading 58 points.

Now, with improved play from Marc-Andre Fleury and the return of Kris Letang on the blue line, the Penguins are looking more and more like the worthy adversary they've been since the lockout.

No one is expecting Malkin to sustain this furious rate of scoring through the entire season, but nobody would be surprised if he did, either. While the Rangers and Bruins are busy bludgeoning each other in a race for the top spot in the East, could the Penguins quietly be joining the conversation of the conference's elite?

Even without Crosby, at this pace they project to be anything but the easy out they were in last year's postseason.

Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Rickie Fowler taunted by fans over his ex-girlfriend

Roger Goodell speaks about future of Pro Bowl in annual address

Mike Krzyzewski provides an update on his health

Sacramento Kings seriously considering firing George Karl

Rick Pitino says school should be penalized, 'but not this team'

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban defends hack-a-player strategy


Jameis Winston awarded Pepsi NFL rookie of the Year

Trade Rumors: Clippers ‘reluctant’ to deal injured Blake Griffin

Bright future for Minnesota Timberwolves

Eli and Archie Manning say Peyton won’t likely leave Denver if he plays in 2016

NCAA mulls changes to graduate transfer and targeting rules

Cavs active in NBA trade market, covet Jared Dudley

Three keys to victory for the Broncos in Super Bowl 50

Torrey Smith: ‘This is probably the best offense’ for Kaepernick

Byron Scott thought D’Angelo Russell would be further along

Under-the-radar Super Bowl 50 matchups

Is Tim Lincecum's run with the San Francisco Giants done?

$40,000 in Super Bowl tickets stolen from San Francisco hotel

Rams fan makes Super Bowl commercial ripping Stan Kroenke

Panthers LB wants 'clown' Rodney Harrison off the air

Jason Reid: Tom Brady will play at least three more years

Kirk Cousins says he has ‘very good relationship’ with RG3

Super Bowl 50 ticket prices are insane

Take a moment to appreciate the greatness of Cam Newton

4-Star 2018 quarterback Matt Corral commits to USC

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The 14 biggest plays in Super Bowl history

Five outrageous predictions for Super Bowl 50

QUIZ: Name the winning starting quarterback from every Super Bowl

The top six matchups that could decide Super Bowl 50

Seven unheralded players set to make major impacts in SB 50

10 underrated performances in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest

X-factors in Super Bowl 50

NHL nightmare: No Canadian teams in playoff hunt

QUIZ: Name the Super Bowl halftime performers since 1991

Manziel's father fears for QB's life

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker