This should have been Evgeni Malkin's stage.

A Conn Smythe Trophy winner as the playoff MVP when the Penguins won the Stanley Cup in 2009, the hulking center stormed back this season from February 2011 knee surgery to win the NHL scoring title with 109 points -- including 50 goals and an impressive average of 1.45 points a game -- and is expected to be a finalist, if not the favorite, for the Hart Trophy awarded in June to the league MVP.