Penguins Notebook: Malkin named Penguins' Most Valuable Player


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Penguins forward and leading scorer Evgeni Malkin was named team MVP and winner of the Booster Club Award as the top player in postgame three-star voting last night during a ceremony before the team's final regular-season home game.

Malkin, in his second year in the NHL, entered the game against Philadelphia with 46 goals, 104 points, six points behind Washington's Alex Ovechkin for the league lead.

Defenseman Kris Letang, who had 17 points in 61 games entering the game, was named rookie of the year.

The Players' Player Award, voted by team members for leadership on and off the ice, went to winger Ryan Malone.

The Community Service Award went to winger Georges Laraque.

The Good Guy Award for cooperation with the media went to defenseman Ryan Whitney.

Goaltender Ty Conklin, who filled in while Marc-Andre Fleury was hurt, was recognized as the team's previously announced nominee for the NHL's Masterton Award for perseverance.

The rest is good

The Penguins recently played five games in eight days, but end the regular season with two games -- last night and a rematch with the Flyers Sunday in Philadelphia -- in six.

"It's important, especially at this time of year, so players have time to rest up between games, even before next week when we start the playoffs," coach Michel Therrien said. "We've still got [time] to try different things with lineups and all that stuff to make sure that when we're going to approach the final exam, we're going to be ready."

Umberger returns

Flyers center and Plum native R.J. Umberger, who missed six games after leaving with a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee in a 7-1 loss to the Penguins March 16, returned last night.

"You're trying to get in the playoffs and you want to help your team out as much as you can," he said. "I'm glad to be back and be part of it. It happens to be against this team."

Umberger played wearing a custom-made brace on the knee.

"It feels pretty stable," he said. "I don't have much pain."

Wilkes-Barre rookies honored

Penguins minor-league affiliate Wilkes-Barre/Scranton placed two players on the American Hockey League all-rookie team.

Goaltender John Curry was 22-9-2 with a 2.16 goals-against average, a .916 save percentage and three shutouts going into last night.

Alex Goligoski ranked second among rookie defensemen in scoring with 30 points, including nine goals, in 63 games, and his plus-minus rating of plus-15 is tied for sixth among first-year players.

A high mark for VERSUS

The Penguins' game with the New York Rangers Monday night drew a 7.2 rating, the highest on a VERSUS telecast in Pittsburgh. The rating represented a 33 percent increase from the season average of 5.4. It was a 20 percent increase over the Penguins' Jan. 14 game with the Rangers, which had a 6.0 rating.

Slap shots

Forward Adam Hall returned to the Penguins' lineup after being out since Jan. 19 because of a sports hernia. ... The game was the 700th of Penguins winger Marian Hossa's career. He entered the game one goal shy of 300. ... With seven healthy defensemen, it was Darryl Sydor's turn to be scratched, a game after Letang sat out. It was the first game Sydor has missed since Dec. 11, also against the Flyers. ... The Penguins also scratched forwards Kris Beech and Jeff Taffe and goaltender Dany Sabourin. ... The Flyers scratched defensemen Derian Hatcher (leg) and Ryan Parent and forwards Scottie Upshall, Steve Downie and Dennis Tolpeko.


Shelly Anderson can be reached at shanderson@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1721.


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