A year ago, Penguins center Evgeni Malkin spent the first round of the playoffs watching as he recovered from knee surgery and begging the coaches to let him play -- in the second round, if not the third.

He didn't get the chance. The Penguins lost in seven games against Tampa Bay and did not advance.

Now Malkin is healthy and on top of his game. He won the NHL scoring title with 109 points and reached 50 goals for the first time.