It was Jan. 6 when Sidney Crosby was diagnosed with a concussion. It’s been 10 ½ months since Crosby has appeared in an NHL game. You wouldn’t have known it if you were watching the game Monday night.
“The Kid” didn’t disappoint. Crosby scored two goals and had two assists in the Penguins’ 5-0 win over the Islanders. It was enough to lead “SportsCenter” on a night Tom Brady was playing on Monday Night Football.
I’m not going to give him all the praise NHL analysts are. But that’s just because I’m a Crosby hater. The Islanders’ starting goalie Monday night? Anders Nilsson. Nilsson is a 21-year-old goalie who was making his first career NHL start. The Islanders, as a team, aren’t the greatest team in the world. They are 5-10-3, the second-worst record in the entire NHL, just ahead of the Blue Jackets.
I saw the highlights. His first goal was very impressive. It was his third shift and skated the entire length of the rink and finished a pretty backhanded effort past Nilsson. He was moving, too. Fast. He flew past the defensemen and Nilsson had no chance.
But let’s be honest. Both of his assists were on extremely soft goals. Anyone who saw them has to agree. Don’t even get me started on his second goal. Soft as can be. I could’ve stopped it.
Is Crosby the best player in the NHL? Maybe. You won’t hear me say that. And I’m sure Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos and Washington’s Alex Ovechkin would like to challenge that.
At the end of the day, four points in any NHL game is impressive. When you haven’t played in over 10 months, it’s even more impressive. But I’m not going to drool over it. The Penguins have a game at Ovechkin and his Capitals in Washington on Dec. 1. Let’s see how Crosby plays in that game. You know, when someone on the opposing team actually tries to hit him instead of just being in awe while watching him skate around. Or when he faces a goalie who has played in the NHL before.
Jackets’ Carter, Sanford trigger victories
Let’s not overreact. Yes, the Blue Jackets have won two in a row, showing life for the first time all season.
It’s not a coincidence the wins have come since Jeff Carter returned to the ice after missing 10 games with a fractured foot. I also don’t think it’s a coincidence Steve Mason wasn’t in the net for either of the victories. The young, struggling goaltender was replaced in the net by Curtis Sanford. Sanford has started the past three games for Columbus, going 2-0-1. He was a shootout goal away from being 3-0-0.
Mason was hit in the mask by a shot from Rick Nash during Monday’s morning skate and is considered day-to-day.
Carter, who scored his first goal as a Blue Jacket on Saturday against Nashville, added two goals Monday night against Calgary to lead the Jackets to their second straight win.
As I’ve said here before, this team has too much talent to finish at the bottom of the standings. It has too much talent to finish as one of the five worst teams. Carter has averaged 38 goals the past three seasons. He needs to go on a scoring spree. And he needs to be joined by Rick Nash. The captain recorded an empty-net goal to ice the game against the Flames, but it was only his fifth goal of the year. He’s scored at least 30 goals in six of his eight seasons in the NHL.
Underachievers up and down that roster.