Penguins Q&A with Dave Molinari
Share with others:
Q: Against the Capitals Sunday, Evgeni Malkin could have buried the puck on the empty-netter, but instead passed to Jordan Staal, a very unselfish play. Do you think it could have actually been a dig at Alex Ovechkin because he has more goals than assists (by far), and everyone knows that your best players have more assists than goals? Obviously, "I'm a more complete player than you," seemed to be the statement.
Tom Schaub, Whittier, Calif.
MOLINARI: Malkin's motivation in giving the puck to Staal in the waning seconds of the Penguins' 4-2 victory at the Verizon Center probably wasn't nearly as complex as you theorize. He had a chance to set up a teammate who has struggled offensively for much of the season, and perhaps imbue him with confidence that could jump-start that part of his game, and did so. The only statement Malkin made when he set up Staal for that goal was that he recognizes that he's part of a team.
Also, the moderator of this forum does not share the belief that the "best players" must have more assists than goals. With the potential for two assists to be awarded on each goal, it stands to reason that most players will end up with more assists than goals, and the idea that being the best goal-scorer in the game prevents a guy from being recognized as its top player simply does not compute. (It's only slightly less logical than the contention that the league's most valuable player is whoever happens to lead it in scoring.)
What's more, Ovechkin's primary value to the Capitals is his goal-scoring; it's why he was the first player drafted in 2004, why he is one of the most entertaining players in the league and why Washington has been able to make a serious run at a playoff spot after getting a dreadful start this season. Goals aren't the only thing Ovechkin contributes to his team -- he can throw a pretty mean check now and then, too, and is a ferocious competitor -- but his ability to produce them so frequently is an asset 29 others clubs would love to have.
Q: What do you think Georges Laraque's future with the Pens looks like? I think it is imperative that he is on the team, with all of the young talent we have.
Bill Hippard, St. Louis
MOLINARI: Laraque certainly seems to have fallen out of favor lately with coach Michel Therrien, who singled him out for criticism during a recent practice and gave him just four minutes and 29 seconds of ice time, the least of any Penguin except Chris Minard, Sunday.
That doesn't necessarily reflect his place in their long-term plans, however. Although Laraque will be an unrestricted free agent, which means the Penguins cannot force him to return, this summer, all indications to this point are that the team wants to bring him back. Laraque is best-known, and most valuable, for the physical and fighting elements of his game, but his hockey skills rival the best found among the league's top-level enforcers.
Just how much he deters opponents from trying to take liberties with the Penguins' most talented players is conjecture, but there's no question other teams are aware that he's around. And that some guys play a little bigger than usual when they have a teammate like Laraque.
First Published March 11, 2008 12:00 am