Evgeni Malkin is not doing himself any favors for his return to Philadelphia next Saturday night when the Flyers host the Penguins in the Stadium Series at Lincoln Financial Field.
There was no love lost on Valentine's Day between Malkin and the Flyers, as the Penguins' center addressed his one-game suspension for swinging his stick at Michael Raffl.
Malkin didn't feel particularly remorseful when it happened Monday night at the Wells Fargo Center and his tone didn't change Thursday.
Not only did he claim Raffl took a dive when hit by his stick, but Malkin also delivered a shot at the Flyers.
Here are some of his comments, courtesy of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Jason Mackey:
Malkin: "We're winning 3-0. There's four [plus] minutes left. We know Philly is gonna start doing shit and running around when they're losing."— Jason Mackey (@JMackeyPG) February 14, 2019
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Malkin on his suspension: "I didn't touch (Raffl's) face. I touched his shoulder. I think he dove."— Jason Mackey (@JMackeyPG) February 14, 2019
Malkin: "I missed five games because I had a problem with my neck. [Raffl] hit me behind my neck. Of course I'm a little bit upset."— Jason Mackey (@JMackeyPG) February 14, 2019
Malkin seems adamant about deeming the play harmless because he didn't actually hit Raffl in the face. That doesn't change the fact that he violently and recklessly swung his stick. If he connected, he could have done serious damage.
That hasn't fazed Malkin.
"It's a high stick, but it's not like I broke his face," Malkin said postgame Monday.
"I'm not trying to hit his face. I know it's dirty, but I missed, my stick [did] not touch his helmet or shoulder."
Flyers interim head coach Scott Gordon put it quite well after Thursday's practice:
Well, it wasn't a high stick. It was a baseball swing. Just because you don't connect doesn't mean it wasn't vicious. It's a tough call. There was intent to swing hard and he did. It didn't connect. I don't think you reward a player because he didn't connect.
Somehow, someway, Malkin might be booed more ruthlessly than Sidney Crosby next Saturday at the Linc.
That's not an easy feat to pull off.
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