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Malkin' a case for the MVP

Whoo boy, tonight's pun-based headline was brought to you by Chris Berman's intern-destroying rant.

Anyway, I hate to admit this (since I write about the Stars and the Pacific Division), but the Penguins have always been my favorite team. That's right. I grew up in East Rutherford, NJ (where the Devils used to play before Barry Melrose insulted Newark) but wasn't about to root for those trap-happy-soul-sucking Devils. So I latched onto Lemieux, Jagr and Co. and the rest is history you don't care about.

So, like I was saying...the Penguins beat the Kings tonight, 4-2 (including a goal by Jordan Staal, otherwise known as Rudy Kelly's BFF) and it was all-Malkin. He had 2 goals and an assist, and barely missed a hat trick at the end of the game.

In case you've been living under a rock/ignoring Gary Bettman's squeals of terror, Sidney Crosby injured his ankle and has missed 9 games already. Many people panicked and a few experts said that it could be a blessing in disguise for his teammates to develop without a Hart trophy winner.

And that's just what happened with Malkin, who is absolutely on fire. While fellow Russian/the guy who was picked before him Alex Ovechkin is being bathed in David Amber Q & A's and franchise-crippling contracts, Malkin is matching his countrymen stride for stride.

He's still a few points behind Ovechkin, but Malkin scored a dizzying 28 points in his last 16 games. Even better, he's kept the Pens afloat while Crosby is rehabbing and Ty freakin' Conklin is in net. In 9 games without Crosby, Malkin's scored 17 points including 7 goals and the Pens have gone a respectable 5-2-2. Sure, Alex O has the Caps fighting for the top spot in his division too, but I'd venture to say the Atlantic is a touch better than the Southeast.

It's enough to at least give Malkin a piece of that Ovechkin hype.

(Coming up tomorrow: ANOTHER really bad pun, this time involving the Stars and Olli Jokinen! Plus I might add a little meat to some of the Malkin analysis in the next couple days. Maybe)