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THN.com Blog: Pens’ struggles and visor vision

Sidney Crosby faces off against David Steckel in Wednesday night's 4-3 Caps win. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/NHLI via Getty Images)

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Sidney Crosby faces off against David Steckel in Wednesday night's 4-3 Caps win. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/NHLI via Getty Images)

A few here and there’s from around the hockey world…

• ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun shed light on an interesting fact after Pittsburgh’s shootout loss to the Washington Capitals Wednesday night; the defending champs are now 0-1-2 versus the Caps and 0-6-0 versus Atlantic rivals New Jersey this season.

That means the Pens have yet to win a game against either of the other two clubs who they’d be lumped in with as top East favorites.

Does that mean they can’t beat either in a seven-game series? Certainly not. But assuming hockey players are still human, it does mean Pittsburgh would enter Game 1 under less than ideal circumstances.

• In some ways, the Colorado Avalanche have set themselves up to fail – at least, in the eyes of others – with their unexpected hold on a playoff spot. We’ve been waiting around all season, expecting the Rocky Mountain high to come crumbling down. There’s been a slip of late, which of course has sent fatalists fumbling for the panic switch.

There’s a much, much better chance the Avs will end the season in the playoffs than out, given they were tied for sixth spot, six points ahead of ninth-place Calgary, entering Thursday night’s action.

But for the sake of sickening (to Avs fans, anyway) argument, let’s say the sky falls and Colorado closes the season on the outside looking in. The post-mortem on its season is going to include a smattering of words like “collapse” and “choke,” generally preceded by “colossal.”

For the record, we had the Avs slotted to finish 14th in the West before this season – and be honest, you did, too.

Imagine how different the narrative would read had the Avs struggled out of the gate, only to get it together over the final two-thirds and fall just short of a playoff spot. “Team on the rise” people in my field and Avs fans everywhere would cry.

Clearly the development of Matt Duchene and emergence of Chris Stewart are too much for even the staunchest pessimist to ignore should that highly unlikely Avalanche tumble occur. But regardless of how this season concludes in Colorado, the analysis should still be somewhat relative to where everyone thought the team was when it began.

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• I’m not here to start a tough guy-tutu debate, but let me just state that the fact every single NHL player doesn’t wear a visor down to his top lip blows my mind.

The latest reason why is Travis Moen’s 50-stitch encounter with Matt Cullen’s skate.

I’m not sure I want to live in a world where hockey players don’t have scars on their face and sport full-toothed smiles. That said, if I put myself in their place, enjoying this incredible profession that affords me a lifestyle most can only dream of, I’d be taking serious steps to protect my plush existence.

Eyesight is a non-negotiable resource for pro athletes and not taking simple, easy measures to protect it seems like the average person turning away a State Farm representative who’s offering free home, auto and life insurance.

If my eyesight were as valuable as these guys’, I wouldn’t watch a hockey game without a visor.

Ryan Dixon is a writer and copy editor for The Hockey News magazine, the co-author of the book Hockey's Young Guns and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Thursdays and his column, Top Shelf, appears Wednesdays.

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.


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