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Beware the Penguins, already?

Yahoo Sports’ Nicholas J. Cotsonika found a way to rather masterfully frame strong suggestions that the Pittsburgh Penguins will return to form as an NHL powerhouse and prohibitive Stanley Cup favorite in a superb article discussing Evgeni Malkin’s Hart Trophy and Ted Lindsay Award wins:

Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin won his first Hart Trophy as the NHL’s most valuable player Wednesday night.

Yes, first.

Because even on a team with Sidney Crosby, Malkin has the ability to stand out. Even in a league with Crosby and Steven Stamkos and Claude Giroux and so many other stars, Malkin could win the Hart again – maybe even should win the Hart again. The way he’s training, the way he’s talking, he seems more committed, confident and comfortable than ever before, and that has already made a great player even greater.

“I hope it’s not last one,” said Malkin after the NHL Awards, standing behind a table packed with hardware – the Hart, the MVP chosen by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association; the Ted Lindsay Award, the most outstanding player chosen by the NHL Players’ Association; and the Art Ross Trophy, which goes to the NHL scoring champion.

At another point, he added: “I love this sport. I like my team. I want to be best next 10 years.”

That ought to make the rest of the NHL shudder. The Penguins lost in the first round of the playoffs this spring, and this is a salary-capped league of parity in which an eighth seed just won the Stanley Cup for the first time. But the Penguins were the favorites heading into the playoffs for a reason, and they are the favorites heading into next season. The sports book at the Wynn Resort and Casino has them at 7-1 odds, best in the league.

No team is a sure bet, but no team is a better bet than Pittsburgh.

Continued, at some length…

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Comments

DrewBehr's avatar

Conspiracy wink

Posted by DrewBehr from The Mitten on 06/21/12 at 03:59 AM ET

Hockey Night in Australia's avatar

Please, keep it up.  This will work like those “give the Capitals the Cup” articles after they signed Vokoun last year.

Posted by Hockey Night in Australia on 06/21/12 at 04:03 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

Posting an article does not necessarily equal agreeing with the article. For goodness’ sake, I’m a Wings fan. No Penguin love here, other than for Malkin’s earnest speeches at the Awards.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 06/21/12 at 04:27 AM ET

shanetx's avatar

No team is a sure bet, but no team is a better bet than Pittsburgh.

A few weeks ago the only team with better odds than Pittsburg would’ve been… any team with a goalie not named Marc-Andre Fleury.

Posted by shanetx from Floydada, Texas on 06/21/12 at 04:36 AM ET

IwoCPO's avatar

So….Tomas Vokoun is the reason they’re such a lock? Got it.  Staal’s staying?  Rosby’s healthy? Their defense is all shored up?

Posted by IwoCPO from Sunny San Diego, bitches on 06/21/12 at 11:36 AM ET

bezukov's avatar

Don’t get me wrong, most teams in the NHL could use a guy like Vokoun, but I just don’t see his acquisition locking up a SCF appearance for Pittsburgh. 

The Penguins still have a lot of maturity and discipline issues (see 2012 playoffs vs. Flyers).  Dan Byslma is a hell of a coach, but he seems to get as wrapped up in the Penguins’ sideshow act as the players do.  I just don’t see how Vokoun changes that much for the Pens.

Not to mention… exactly when in his career did Vokoun distinguish himself as a guy who can get in done in the playoffs?

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 06/21/12 at 01:39 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.

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