After the Penguins game against the Lightning on Wednesday a lot of talk has been going on about parallels between Evgeni Malkin and a hockey legend, Mario Lemieux. While I agree with that synopsis to some degree, Malkin's playing style leads me to a different former Pen, Jaromir Jagr.
Now, first of all Jagr was and probably always will be my favorite player. In fact it is because of him that I will be a lifetime Penguins fan. I loved his skating style, his amazing hands, his vision, and his ability to use his size to his advantage.
I have even tried to mirror myself after Jagr when I play hockey, I obviously am no where near as talented, but he inspired me to play hockey to be like him. Anyway, I have spent a lot of time watching Jagr play and now I watch Evgeni Malkin every chance I can. That being said, Malkin has become my favorite current NHLer because he reminds me the most of Jagr.
The way the two move on the ice is almost identical, between their skating stride and their tendency to cut in and out horizontally between defenders. Also, Malkin uses a lot of the same moves to get around defencemen as Jagr did. To add to that, Malkin likes to use his body to beat defencemen the same as Jagr.
Another correlation that I see is the passing ability that Jagr was underrated for and I think Malkin is as well. The vision that Jagr had for finding teammates and then delivering perfect passes was often not placed on his list of strengths. And before this season I think Malkin's passing ability was largely overshadowed by another teammate, Sidney Crosby.
Which leads me to another correlation between Malkin and Jagr, both were overshadowed by teammates. I think for Malkin this is quickly coming to an end as he is proving that he is just as valuable to the Penguins, and maybe even more valuable than Crosby. While no player will ever fill the void that Jaromir Jagr created in my heart when he left for Russia, Evgeni Malkin is surely creating his own special spot.