Fantasy Hockey: Top Five Scoring Leaders

Dan BentonCorrespondent IDecember 27, 2008

In studying the National Hockey League scoring leaders, it is easy to see why Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins is loving life.

When watching the Penguins games, Malkin seems to always be in the video picture on the screen. As a linemate of Sidney Crosby, when that particular combination is teamed together, opponents have to always be on guard as both barrels would then be loaded with disaster lurking for their first mistake.

Of course, as opponents make mistakes, those mistakes more often than not end up in their net as they pay the price for witnessing the magic of Malkin-Crosby.

Malkin, to date, leads the NHL in three of the four scoring categories for forwards, which are total points scored, assists, and plus/minus ranking.

The only one he is not the current leader in presently is goals scored, but just wait, as the season is still early and young yet. His most impressive lead to date is in the overall points he has scored.

In 35 games, Malkin has totaled 59 points, or close to one and one-half points per game against opponents this season. He also leads the NHL in assists, as he is setting up teammates, with a total of 44 assists in the same 35 games.

The third category he leads the league in is the plus/minus rankings. Malkin has a ranking of plus 23, as the best in the league. That means he has been on the ice for 23 more times that the Penguins have scored an even strength goal than he has been on the ice when opponents have scored.

Often scoring leaders' plus/minus figures are not remarkable, as they concentrate on scoring, not necessarily keeping opponents off the scoreboard on their particular shift in five-on-five hockey.

Malkin's plus-23 is truly a testimony to his all-around play. Surprisingly, Malkin only has recorded one game winning goal to date. Marc Savard of the Boston Bruins is the next closest in ranking at plus-21 in 34 games played.

The second ranked forward in the scoring categories is Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals. Ovechkin makes the Capitals playoff contenders by his presence alone.

"O" has played in 34 games to date this season, and in those games has totaled 23 goals and 24 assists for a total 47 points at the time of this writing. His totals increase by the game even though he does not have a Sydney Crosby setting him up.

Ovechkin's trademark is not giving up on a puck, even when getting knocked down or tripped, as in this past Friday's game against the Sabres.

Read more: Fantasy Hockey: Top Five Scoring Leaders