Adam from the 412 nailed it. On October 13, for his maiden post, he predicted the date of Sidney Crosby’s return to the ice. Number 87 didn’t disappoint last night and Adam files on Sid’s monster evening. We’re even going to let Adam take some shots at Ovi. Why the hell not? Everyone ::cough Mike Wise cough:: seems to be. We’ll be at the December 1 game when the Caps host the Pens and will welcome back Sid our own way.
“I’m not going to go overboard here. It was one game; it was against the NHL’s Garbage Pail Kids, the New York Islanders. Even so, I don’t think anyone out there watching the game was left feeling that somehow Sidney Crosby’s return wasn’t something truly special. If there’s one player right now who consistently makes his team better, it’s Sidney Crosby. With all due respect (and that’s dwindling as his captaincy proves flaccid like Palm Springs sans Viagra) to Alexander Ovechkin, Crosby runs shit.
It says a lot when a player who’s been gone for 10 months, returns with 4 points and dominates in the faceoff circle, still comes out of it knowing he can do better. The key difference between him and Ovechkin lies in the fact that Crosby will actually work on making himself the best, most complete player out there. But I don’t intend to turn this into a Crosby/Ovechkin debate because, frankly, I’m not even sure it’s worth having anymore as Crosby continues to add new layers of depth to his game while Ovechkin’s still reaching into his same bag of tired tricks.
As amazing as Sidney’s night proved to be, it’s important to remember that another key piece of the Penguins puzzle, Zbynek Michalek, returned to the blue line. Though obviously overshadowed, Michalek’s presence in the lineup cannot be emphasized enough. He’s the best pure defenseman the Penguins have, and I don’t think it’s completely coincidental that the Penguins kept the puck out of the net for 60 minutes with Z sprawling to block shots and hounding opposing forwards. To be sure, Fleury made some truly spectacular saves to preserve that shutout, and his effort tonight was another brilliant display eclipsed by Crosby’s exploits.
I’ll tell you what, though. Seeing Crosby and Malkin on a line together again during the power play and even strength was an insta-boner. Seeing Crosby, Malkin, and Staal center three separate lines? Divine. Lord knows I’m getting on my knees to pray (this time) that these hookers stay healthy, because if so, the league is on notice. I’m not going to sit there and pretend like we deserve anything, because we don’t; we have to fight and claw our way to victory like every other team in this league.
But if this team’s scratches no longer include 87, 71, 11, and 4, I feel like we’re one of the teams to beat. And this isn’t even touching on things like Niskanen picking up his game so much over last year; Richard Park steadily killing penalties; Paul Martin quietly making that first pass out of the zone; Dupuis somehow being near the top 30 in scoring.
All of this could change Wednesday against St. Louis. While I’m on my knees, I’ll also toss up a prayer that Halák isn’t between the pipes since he’s had our number. In the meantime, though, fasten your mothafuckin’ seat belt and put your seatbacks and tray-tables in the upright position, because the Penguins are ready, finally, for takeoff.
And I predicted the date. I think that deserves a white-lady-on-the-dancefloor-listening-to-Nelly “Hollerrrrrrrrrrrrr.” Finally, some random thoughts from around this ‘ol NHL thing:
- Radim Vrbata: overlooked, mispronounced, and one of the guys I’m championing out West.
- Tomas Fleischmann. Where would he be if his veins didn’t seem to hate regular bloodflow? Another homedude I’m rooting for, except when the former-LOLCat Panthers take the ice against us.
- The Dallas Stars can be summed up by the Soul II Soul classic, “Back 2 Life.”
- Alexander Semin was a healthy scratch. Next time try scratching the other Russian who’s supposed to, you know, be leading the team and hasn’t already been written off by everyone outside of the Beltway.
Happy Thanksgiving. If anyone else wants lottery numbers, you know where to find me.
You can find Adam on twitter, still crowing about nailing the date of Sid’s return. Catch up with him soon before he’s hired as the NHL linemaker at Caesar’s: @adamkno