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|Penning a course to the Cup?|
|Written by Denis Gorman|
|Sunday, 18 March 2012 14:11|
Is it a challenge to add Sidney Crosby to the lineup of the league's hottest team? Of course not. Just look at the numbers of the first three games of his return.
Dan Bylsma, the coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins, scoffed at the absurdity of the question posed to him early Thursday afternoon in New York City.
What kind of a challenge, the question went, is it for the league’s hottest team to add the best player in the world?
Crosby returned to the Penguins Thursday night after missing 40 games with post-concussion symptoms. It was his second 2011-12 season debut. His first was an epic two goal, two assist, four point performance against the New York Islanders on Nov. 21.
All he did in his first game back was record two assists and a plus-3 rating in 16:00 of ice time centering Tyler Kennedy and Matt Cooke.
“I thought it was a pretty good start,” Bylsma said after the win.
Two days later, at Newark’s Prudential Center, Crosby was even better as he recorded three assists in 15:19 in the Penguins’ 5-2 rout of the New Jersey Devils.
“They played [well]. You can tell they are flying high,” was Martin Brodeur’s assessment of Penguins following the Saturday afternoon matinee. "They look pretty good.
That has to be a frightening thought for the rest of the NHL.
Pittsburgh is 2-0-1 in Crosby’s second stint with the Penguins this season after Sunday’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center. The loss snapped Pittsburgh’s 11-game win streak but it was still able to slice the Rangers’ Eastern Conference and Atlantic Division division lead to one point, 95-94.
Crosby has five assists for five points, and a plus-4 rating in 48:56 in the three games in New York, Newark and Philadelphia. In his abbreviated season, he has two goals, 15 assists, 17 points and a plus-11 rating in 202:59 in 11 games. The Penguins are 7-2-2 when Crosby has dressed.
So, yes, it certainly has been a Herculean task for Bylsma and the Penguins to welcome Crosby back. One that 29 other teams in the NHL would welcome.
Among the league’s most fascinating storylines in the second half of the season has been the inconsistent play of the Boston Bruins.
During CBC's Hockey Night in Canada’s Hot Stove segment Saturday night, reporters Eric Francis and Elliotte Friedman noted NHL general managers have continued to complain about the Nashville Predators being able to add right wing Alexander Radulov.
Finally, does anything better describe the state of the Columbus Blue Jackets than Steve Mason’s recent admission to the Columbus Dispatchthat he “never knew he could” modify his equipment?
|Last Updated on Tuesday, 20 March 2012 03:01|