Greetings, happy Penguins fans.
Even without Sidney Crosby, the Penguins have won three straight against teams that likely will be playoff participants. Although the Red Wings are depleted with injuries, they are still the Red Wings, and earning two points against them is significant.
Here are some observations that weren’t coherent enough to make the newspaper.
= RW Chris Conner now has six goals and, perhaps more notably, seems to give the Penguins positive energy almost every game. He isn’t a star, but his speed is electric and clearly gave the Red Wings fits.
And so, what do we think about Conner? Is he a career minor-leaguer on an insignificant hot streak, or is he a player capable of contributing to a Stanley Cup run? A month or two ago, I would have dismissed him. Now, I’m not so sure. This guy is a bit better than I thought. He probably isn’t a legitimate option on the top three lines come playoff time, but he is worth keeping around.
= Is it me, or did this game lack the normal buzz that a Penguins-Red Wings game generates? Sidney Crosby, Pavel Datsyuk, Chris Osgood and Tomas Holmstrom probably would have helped.
= Speaking of Crosby, kudos to the captain for meeting with reporters today. No one likes answering constant questions about their health, nor does anyone like reading stories about them that simply aren’t true. Crosby was surely furious about the Globe and Mail report that suggested he will boycott the NHL All-Star Game because he wasn’t properly protected by the league following two recent head shots, but true to form, Crosby handled the situation with the dignity that has become a trademark.
= Although C Evgeni Malkin continues to be mired in a scoring slump, give him some credit. Malkin actually played a good game against Detroit, picked up an assist and one six of 11 draws, which is a particularly good number for him. When Malkin is at his best, he always picks off lots of passes, and we saw that tonight. Perhaps a hot streak is coming.
= Believe it or not, the Red Wings seemed genuinely disappointed that Crosby wasn’t able to play Tuesday. Detroit coach Mike Babcock and D Nicklas Lidstrom, in fact, spoke rather eloquently about their admiration for Crosby. While neither man came out and said it, they both made it clear that they believe the head shots initiated by Washington’s David Steckal and Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman were worthy of NHL discipline.
Until next time, when Rob Rossi comes to you live from lovely Newark … You stay classy, Pittsburgh.