2012 NHL Awards: Evgeni Malkin Sews Up Second Art Ross Trophy

James ConleyContributor IIIApril 8, 2012

Malkin hasn't always taken the spotlight, especially playing in the shadow of Sidney Crosby. A second Art Ross title has helped elevate his status as one of the game's best.
Malkin hasn't always taken the spotlight, especially playing in the shadow of Sidney Crosby. A second Art Ross title has helped elevate his status as one of the game's best.Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

With 109 points in just 75 games, Evgeni Malkin can count himself a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins' growing club of multiple-scoring-title-winners.

And 50-goal scorers.

“I can’t believe it,” Malkin said. “I think before when I scored 47, I didn’t think I’d ever score 50 in one season. But we see if you work hard you get a chance.”

A second-period tally in Saturday's season finale gave Malkin 50 for the first time in his career, topping his previous career-high of 47.

A 50-goal, 59-assist campaign capped off the comeback season that saw the former Art Ross-winner and Hart Trophy finalist enter the year with more questions—injuries, inconsistency, desire—than believers.

Geno's summer training sessions with Pens' strength and conditioning coach Mike Kadar were a first look at his renewed dedication. His adherence to the extra work paid off in the form of his second scoring title.

"If you'd look at the stuff we did in the gym over the summer, it was always him wanting one more rep than the guy he was working with, but once we were done with the workouts, it was him back to being laid back and laughing," Kadar said. "He's really funny in those spots, but when there is a competition, he gets serious. You can actually see the difference on his face."

Give some time to this great look at Malkin's competitive streak from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Rob Rossi.

With his second Art Ross locked up, the question now is whether Geno will earn his first nod as league MVP.

Malkin was a finalist for the Hart Trophy in 2008 and 2009, losing both times to countryman Alex Ovechkin. Malkin finished six points shy of Ovechkin in '08 and led the league with 113 points the following year.

This season, no one finished within 10 points of Malkin, the only scorer to top 100 points and one of only two (Steven Stamkos) to reach the 50-goal plateau.

While Malkin piled up the points as part of the league's highest-scoring offense, he was most often the engine that drove that offense—even when nearly on his own.

Sidney Crosby (60 games missed), Jordan Staal (20 games missed) and Kris Letang (31 games missed) are some of Pittsburgh's most potent offensive threats. Malkin did more than his part to carry the team to wins while those players sat out.

Of course, Malkin wasn't entirely alone. Teamed with James Neal and Chris Kunitz since late last year, the trio became the highest-scoring line in the NHL.

Neal (40-41-81) and Kunitz (26-35-61) set career highs in goals and points this year, erasing the longing for since-departed wingers Petr Sykora and Ryan Malone.

Given his past runner-up status, ability to carry the offense through injuries and that he won a second scoring title in a landslide, it'll be hard to deny Malkin his first Hart Trophy.

Those voting on the award may not want to.

"If I lose, I hate everyone, everywhere," Malkin said.


List of Penguins Art Ross Winners

The Penguins have taken 14 of the last 24 Art Ross titles. Their 14 are more than any other team despite being a part of the 1967 Expansion Six—20 years after the Art Ross was first awarded to the league's leading scorer.

Montreal is second with nine Art Ross-winners.

Mario Lemieux—1988, 1989, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997
Jaromir Jagr—1995, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001
Evgeni Malkin—2009, 2012
Sidney Crosby—2007


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