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Sidney Crosby back on game spells trouble for NHL

Posted on: November 21, 2011 9:40 pm
Edited on: November 22, 2011 10:39 am
 

crosbyreturn1

By: Adam Gretz

PITTSBURGH -- For the Penguins, their 5-0 win over the New York Islanders on Monday night wasn't just about getting their captain, Sidney Crosby, back in the lineup for the first time since Jan. 5. Though, his four-point performance, including a goal on his third shift of the night was certainly a welcome sight and addition.

"The goals and assists were great, obviously," said Crosby. "But just being back out there, I can't really even describe it. It was exciting, I was anxious. Lot of different things going through my mind, but the main thing was just the joy of playing, and that's something I've missed for the past 10 months, so it was great we had a good game and got the win."

It was also about getting their team back to full strength for the first time since the end of the 2009-10 postseason.

Whether it's been Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jordan Staal or any other combination of players, the Penguins have been dealing with a steady stream of injuries over the better part of the past two seasons, with most of the damage being done to their three franchise centers. This is a team that is built down the middle with a trio of pivots that, when all are healthy and in the lineup, is a matchup problem for just about any other team in the league to go up against.

More on Sidney Crosby

Combined, Crosby,  Malkin and Staal take up over over $20 million of their salary cap space on a yearly basis, and are counted on to be their best players every night. Crosby and Malkin provide the scoring, Staal provides the shutdown center role that matches up against the other team's top line.

Monday's game represented just the third time since the start of last season, a total of 116 games, that all three players were in the lineup together. At various times over that stretch, they were without two of the three, if not all three for a small handful of games. Through it all, the Penguins managed to maintain a competitive squad, even if it wasn't always pretty, and even finished last season with 105 points in the regular season before exiting in the first-round of the playoffs -- minus Crosby and Malkin -- due in large part to a lack of goal-scoring.

And now, all three are back.

"It was certainly a different bench tonight," said Penguins coach Dan Bylsma. "Managing the ice time, getting players in different spots, than it has been in a long time. There are some players playing in different roles, or different minute slots for our team. Tonight it was maybe a different feel for me as a coach because of having 87, 71 and 11 there, and trying to fit players into the rotation and get them into the game, and get them into minutes. So it had a different feel for me. It's a feel I'd like to get used to a little bit more than just one game."

When asked what it was like to have all three players back in the lineup at the same time, defenseman Zbynek Michalek (who was also making a return to the lineup after missing the past month) said, "Yeah, it's been a while since we've had all three guys on the ice together, and when you have three centermen like that there aren't many teams in the league that can match up against that. Our team overall is pretty deep and if we can keep everybody healthy we can be a pretty good team."

Obviously, there were a ton of questions surrounding Crosby's return on Monday. Some were asking whether or not he could, despite missing the first 20 games of the season, work his way back into the scoring race, something that seemed like an unreasonable expectation (and it still kind of does).

When asked if he felt it could be done after the game, Bylsma simply chuckled for a moment and said, "I'm not going to make any prediction on that. We have 61 games left and his pace is pretty good right now."

Of course, the question of how much rust would be there after not playing in an NHL game for nearly 11 months was a sensible one, as would what might happen the first time he was hit during a game at full speed?

For the record, the first official hit in the scorebook belonged to defensemen Travis Hamonic.

It seemed unreasonable to think that he would able step right into the lineup and play at the same level he was playing at last season prior to suffering the concussion that ended his season. But he seemingly managed to do just that. He scored goals, he generated offense, leading the team in shots on goals, and he distributed the puck setting a pair of goals (including one for defensive-defenseman Brooks Orpik) and won most of his faceoffs.

"We want our centermen to go with speed and support and come from behind," said Bylsma when talking about Crosby's first goal. "But we haven't seen it quite like that in a long time. Just to see him get the puck right there I knew immediately their defense was in trouble. We've seen stuff like that before but it kind of played out in slow motion when he got the puck around the red line and had that burst of speed, and we've seen that backhand before. That was pretty special. I enjoyed his celebration."

At this point it's just one game back for Crosby, and expectations should remain within reason on an individual level. But on a team level? Against the Islanders, a squad that has been struggling mightily over the early part of the season, and elected to start a rookie goaltender making his first NHL start, we were reminded just how good the Penguins can be when all three of their top guys are in the lineup.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @AGretz on Twitter.


Comments

Since: Oct 13, 2006
Posted on: November 23, 2011 1:30 pm
 

Sidney Crosby back on game spells trouble for NHL

Now now boys no one is sacrosanct - not even poor Sydney. He's still given his props; yes he is a terrific scorer, and assist man, but he's not a great defensive forward, yeah like Datsyuk (3 Selke's and 4 Lady Bing's), and he's still a punk, and cheap shot artist. Would I want him on my team, hell yea, but he's not, therefore I get to ridicule his failures and curse his triumphs. It's in the script. How you choose to respond is, well, your choice - but how important is defending the young man's honor to you? Sydney Crosby is a good player, but he isn't one of the best, not yet, but until then he's gonna get knocked - Hell even the Great One had his detractors; to skinny, not tough enough, he quieted his critics by his play, and in the process earned their respect. 
In order for Crosby to do that he has to be more than just a scorer, he has to also stop being a punk - cheap shop artist. 

On that note if CBS will allow this I'd like to offer one of my favorite Sydney moments.    




Since: Nov 21, 2006
Posted on: November 22, 2011 7:40 pm
 

Sidney Crosby back on game spells trouble for NHL

   Did you even read my posts????  How in the world did you get the impression I'm not a Pens fan, or that I don't like Sid?
You need to work on your reading comprehension some bud.  I'll go over what I said nice and slow so you can maybe understand.

"I'm going to go ahead and wait before I make any decisions on if he's back 100 percent or not."
I simply stated I don't feel 1 good game means your 100 percent back.  I'm not saying he isn't.  Just that I'll let him play few more games before I make any decisions on the matter for myself.

"I wanna see him get hit in head and skate away fine before I get to excited."
In  case your forgot he was out with a head injury.  You know a concussion.  It was great seeing him take a few decent body shots with no ill effects.  Problem is it wasn't his body that was injured so body shots don't really mean much of anything.  Untill we see his head get a little banged up and him get right back up and skate away we can't be sure if he's 100 percent.  Again I'm not saying he isn't.  It would just put my mind at ease to see he can take that kind of hit without having any setbacks.

"not counting the horrible cross checking call"
I thought that cross checking call was really weak.  I apologize for not being a blinded homer fan like yourself who thinks every call for his team is a good call, and all calls against his team are bad.

"Reason I'm skeptical is Islanders never looked like they were in this game from the start.  They looked like they didnt care one little bit.  Like a NHL vs AHL game or something."
Should of been simple enough to understand.  I thought NYI played an awful game.  They just didn't seem into it from the very start.

"Lets see Crosby score 4 points on a team who looks like they actually wanna be out there"
Another one I thought was simple enough to understand.  I want to see Crosby have a good game against a top team in the league who is actually playing with a little heart.  I in no way shape or form say he isn't back.  I would just feel more confident if he would have a 4 point game against a quality team.

Now do me a favor here .  Read this post about 5 times before you decide to reply with anymore idiotic posts that make you look like you have the reading comprehension of a 2nd grader.





Since: Apr 9, 2009
Posted on: November 22, 2011 7:37 pm
 

Sidney Crosby back on game spells trouble for NHL

and for those who get their panties in a bunch when someone makes a comment about your golden boy that you don't like..please just get over it, i mean the majority of you are adults correct?

Are you also directing that question to the Rhodes Scholar Flyers fan that made this Pulitzer Prize comment:

Sidney Crosby should have comeback WAY WAY before. little pussy

 that statement was meant for everyone saint...even the stupid flyers fan..

and to steel city...i never said i was classy just pointing out that he was making a statement like he was high and mighty and followed it up with the all so classy and all so tired "philthadelphia" comment..like i said don't  get your panties in a bunch dude.



Since: Sep 5, 2006
Posted on: November 22, 2011 6:08 pm
 

Sidney Crosby back on game spells trouble for NHL

Also, allow me a moment of homerism. If "best player" is defined as "best all-around" player, save some room in the argument for Jonathan Toews. He's a team captain that won a Cup and Gold Medal at 21, he plays on the top PP and PK lines, he wins faceoffs better than anyone, he can score, he can dish, he can skate, and he plays lockdown defense. There's nothing on the ice that he can't do.



Since: Sep 5, 2006
Posted on: November 22, 2011 5:53 pm
 

Sidney Crosby back on game spells trouble for NHL

My initial thought when I saw Crosby was back on the ice last night: "Wow, that's great. I hope he's OK. What else is on?"

My initial thought when I heard Crosby scored four points after missing 10 months: "Wow, **** me. I forgot how good he is. Someone knock the Pens out of the Playoffs just in case my Hawks get to the Cup Finals."




Since: Nov 22, 2011
Posted on: November 22, 2011 5:47 pm
 

Sidney Crosby back on game spells trouble for NHL

I suppose you're going to tell us Datsyuk is the best player in the league..Lets take a look at Sids first goal from last night. He was backchecking behind his own net..gets the puck to Engelland, then skates by the entire Islanders team to finish the play. If that isnt the definition of a 2-way play then I should stop watching hockey because I must be missing something.




Since: Nov 24, 2009
Posted on: November 22, 2011 5:41 pm
 

Sidney Crosby back on game spells trouble for NHL

In the words of Harvey Keitel..."The Wolf"    "Lets not start s***** each.." well you know what he says. Its the last place Islanders, not the Capitals or Red Wings.



Since: May 8, 2007
Posted on: November 22, 2011 5:02 pm
 

Sidney Crosby back on game spells trouble for NHL

He may be the BEST scorer, but no way is he a complete, two-way player.  Crosby is hyped for his scoring, and rightfully so.  But scoring does not equate to overall performance.  Let's see Sid spend some time on PK or shut down an opposing top center with his defensive skills consistently.  Then he may be considered the BEST hockey player.



Since: May 8, 2007
Posted on: November 22, 2011 4:57 pm
 

Sidney Crosby back on game spells trouble for NHL

A very good performance from Crosby, but let's keep it in perspective. . . it was a home game against the Islanders.  To start talking about a missing piece to the title puzzle after one game against a doormat in the East is a jumping the gun a bit



Since: Nov 30, 2009
Posted on: November 22, 2011 4:40 pm
 

Sidney Crosby back on game spells trouble for NHL

and for those who get their panties in a bunch when someone makes a comment about your golden boy that you don't like..please just get over it, i mean the majority of you are adults correct?

Are you also directing that question to the Rhodes Scholar Flyers fan that made this Pulitzer Prize comment:

Sidney Crosby should have comeback WAY WAY before. little pussy








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