The man, the myth, the urban legend will return to Madison Square Garden tomorrow night.
Yes folks, Marek Malik is back.
After receiving no interest - at least publicly - during the summer Malik was signed by the Bolts a few weeks back and will step back on the Garden ice on the blueline for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
I will be honest in that I have not seen much of him since he went south (har, har) outside of his mediocre performance against the Devils tonight. Here is how he has done game-by-game since he has returned:
*Game 1 vs San Jose: 14:27 of ice time, -1, minor for interference that the Sharks scored a power play goal on to make it 2-0 (they won 3-0).
*Game 2 vs Toronto: 15:13, +1, minor for interference that the Maple Leafs scored the game-winning power play goal on in a 3-2 win.
*Game 3 vs Buffalo: 17:36, +2 - Bolts win 5-2.
*Game 4 vs Ottawa: 16:09, even, minor for tripping that the Senators scored the first goal of the game on but the Bolts went on to win 3-2 in a shootout.
*Game 5 vs New Jersey: 19:08, even - Bolts lose 4-3 in a shootout.
Ah, the more things change, the more they stay the same. New jersey, same Malik. Sasquatch gets good ice time, ends up on the plus side of the ledger, makes bad decisions with the puck, takes bad penalties and is softer than Mister Stay Puft. However, he entirely awful; he does take advantage of his size by getting his limbs and stick in passing lanes and he has the knack of finding chemistry with talented players.
It is that ability that got him the plus/minus numbers that everyone points out in conversations about the oversized Czech. Malik was +58 in two seasons with Vancouver, back when our very own Markus Naslund was dominating the NHL alongside a saner Todd Bertuzzi and a healthy Brendan Morrison. In the three seasons with the Rangers after the lockout, Malik was +67 playing almost exclusively behind that Jaeger guy. Malik saw a good amount of power play time with Jagr's unit (when Straka wasn't put across from Rozy) and yet in 185 regular season Ranger games he had four power play points. In fact, Malik rarely puts up points but does get the pluses.
And more power to him for doing that. I have wasted many pixels on this blog pointing out Malik's various shortcomings but, as I put on his Hockey-Reference page, I wish him the best of luck far away from the Garden. Let's face it folks, he will be a part of Ranger highlight reels for as long as they play hockey in New York ...
But for as much as I joined in the cheering for that goal on that amazing Saturday night, I will still greet him tomorrow the way I bid him adieu:
M! A! L-I-K, MALIK YOU SUCK!