This was not meant as a slight to Crosby. He is without question the better player, leader, and will most likely have a greater statistical output. But for the Pens to get where they want this season, Malkin will need to return to his 2008-09 form.
Last season really is not good for the argument either way, because both Sid and Geno ended up injured. But the 2009-10 season was a giant disappointment, and maybe not by coincidence, so was Malkin's play.
Many sources such as Rob Rossi and Coach Dan Bylsma have indicated what we want to hear. Malkin is dedicated and passionate about his return to hockey and has a true burning desire to show that he is one of the top hockey players in the world.
Consider that when Malkin is at the top of his game, and on a line separate from Crosby, stopping the Penguins becomes a chore that most NHL teams are not up for.
Remember that Malkin, not Crosby, won the 2009 Conn Smythe Trophy not only for his overall playoff performance, but his eight points in the Stanley Cup Finals. The Red Wings neutralized Crosby, but even they could not stop Malkin from being the dynamic playmaker many believe him to be.
So with that said, it is clear that Penguins probably benefit more with Malkin and Crosby separated at even strength. But should Malkin be at center or on the wing?
Let's take a look at some of the factors.