Brendan Shanahan has a busy week, what with the board of governors and dealing with all of the weekend’s stupidity and all, but he definitely got off to a good start giving James Neal a five-game suspension for kneeing Brad Marchand in the head last Saturday.
That’s because Shanahan, the NHL’s director of player safety, obviously wasn’t interested in buying any swampland in Florida from Neal. The player’s heartfelt plea that he had no intent was, quite obviously judging by Shanahan’s ruling, interpreted as a bunch of horse manure.
There weren’t too many people happy with the lunacy they saw in Boston Saturday night. You know something’s really bad when even the fighting zealots wag their fingers, all the while going through their predictable, ‘You-hate-to-see-that-happen-to-anybody” routine. Read more
Tonight, in his most daring stunt yet, Sidney Crosby will grapple with a 6-foot-9 Slovakian brown bear — INSIDE A STEEL CAGE. Eleven games this Saturday and here’s five storylines to get you set for the action. Read more
We’re going to go out on a limb here and predict that Sidney Crosby will be on Steve Yzerman’s final list when he submits Canada’s Olympic team roster in early January. But the more he watches the Pittsburgh Penguins play, the more he has to be at least entertaining the possibility of naming James Neal and Chris Kunitz along with Sid the Kid.
Actually, Crosby played his 500th game Thursday night and scored points No. 704, 705 and 706, so perhaps it’s time to start calling him Sid the Adolescent or something like that. In any event, Crosby and accomplishments are doing a good job of making a lot of us feel old.
Getting back to Kunitz and Neal, perhaps it’s not so preposterous to suggest that they should both be considered for Canada’s team in Sochi. And here’s why. Because they have an uncanny chemistry with the best player in the world at the moment. And because they wouldn’t be riding Crosby’s coattails. It’s not always easy to play with someone as sublimely talented as Crosby. You have to be ready to get the puck any time under circumstances where other players might not be able to deliver. And that takes a unique chemistry. Read more
It’s tough to believe Sidney Crosby has as many detractors as he does. His mannerisms may not be your cup of tea, but when Crosby makes incredible plays look routine – as he did in scoring the overtime goal in a 3-2 Pens win over the Isles – year after year, if you don’t give him his due, you’re a due-hoarder and I’m here to tell you it’s unhealthy.
But here’s what makes Crosby’s game-winner so beautiful to hockey people at the NHL level: the hardworking start of the play, not the spectacular end to it.
Many, if not most people will focus on the Pittsburgh superstar splitting through two Islanders and batting around a bouncing puck through goalie Anders Nilsson to end a game the Isles had led 2-0 for nearly 40 minutes. However, look closely at the beginning of the play:
Yes, we are just one-third of the way through this 2013-14 campaign. But if you look at the standings and the league statistical leaders, the NHL is heading directly towards what would be an incredible ending. That is, if you count incredible as “very easily marketable in a way that could gain PR for hockey and help grow the game.” Read more
It was all looking so good for the Maple Leafs. A 4-1 lead over the Pittsburgh Penguins after two goals were scored within the first minute of the second period and a 5-3 lead by the time the frame was over. Sure, they had a little hiccup in there, but they bounced back to restore a two-goal lead. Two points seemed to be coming down the pipe.
But then the third period happened.
The most important stat you need to know about the third period is the zero shots Toronto put on the board. Zero. Advanced stats or not, that’s ugly to anybody’s eyes.
James Neal brought the Penguins to within one again in the first five minutes of the third, but the real controversial play came a few minutes later. After Chris Kunitz brought the puck into Toronto’s zone along the boards and threw it towards the net and Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin came crashing into the crease. As the puck went underneath Jonathan Bernier’s pad, Malkin actually shoved the goalie into the net with one move, then the puck with the next. The goal was allowed, which tied the wild game 5-5.
Should it have counted?
Despite the fact that the Pittsburgh Penguins have sat near the top of the NHL standings for the majority of the last six years, while the New York Islanders have been the complete opposite for basically the last 25, the two have always had fantastic tilts when they met – an old Atlantic Division rivalry continuing as a Metropolitan Division rivalry. Friday night’s contest proved to be no different. The Pens came into the game with 28 points, the Islanders with 19. The Pens in first place in the Metro, the Islanders in last place. But all that got thrown out the window once the puck dropped at the Consol Energy Center. Read more