A thought occurred Saturday night while covering another hard, close game between the Penguins and Blues at St. Louis. A Stanley Cup banner would look completely appropriate hanging from Scottrade Center.
Indeed, there is a long way to go in this NHL season, and the Blues, under coach Ken Hitchcock, must prove they can win a round, let alone four, in the playoffs.
Still, they looked awfully imposing in this win over the Penguins.
That imposing look by the Blues was especially true of David Backes, who was credited with four shots and as many hits, but who also generally appeared to make goings miserable for Sidney Crosby (2 shots).
Crosby has gone two games in a row without a point. Hardly a slump, unless his elite standard is the new normal – it is not.
He has three points in the last five games and no multiple-point games in that stretch. The start of that stretch marked the last of a five-game run over which he averaged 24 minutes and 42 seconds of ice time.
Crosby is an empty-the-tank player, and despite his supreme conditioning, his physically demanding style does not lend itself well to heavy ice time. For almost two weeks, he played about 41 percent of games.
That was and is too much.
Penguins coaches – most NHL coaches, actually – monitor shifts more than ice time.
Still, somewhere between 21 and 22 minutes seems best for Crosby. He was in that range in the opening seven games, and he scored six of his eight goals and produced 14 of his 23 points.
He has gone seven games without a goal, by the way.
Evgeni Malkin is without a goal in 10 games.
Pascal Dupuis has gone 11 games without marking.
The Penguins have scored a goal or less in four of the last nine games.
This seems like a perfect time for a boost from some returning skilled players, no?
Links to the Tribune-Review’s coverage of your Penguins and the NHL…
• More on returning wingers James Neal and Beau Bennett, plus the far more surprising absence of Paul Martin: http://triblive.com/sports/penguins/5018383-74/neal-penguins-bennett#axzz2kBJe2AM7
• The #TribHKY Insider shows a Russian perhaps about to take St. Louis – and maybe Sochi – if not by storm, maybe at least a hard rain: http://triblive.com/sports/penguins/5018359-74/tarasenko-malkin-goals#axzz2kBJe2AM7
• Stats Dude Dave Golebiewski looks at a scheduling trend: http://triblive.com/sports/penguins/5018363-74/penguins-division-average#axzz2kBJe2AM7
• Jonathan Bombulie checks in with his Never-To-Be-Missed notes on the AHL “Don’t Call Them ‘Baby’” Penguins: http://triblive.com/sports/penguins/5018358-74/harrington-barre-wilkes#axzz2kBJe2AM7
• Brendan Shanahan is headed to the Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday. His legacy, though, has yet to be determined because of his work with Player Safety: http://triblive.com/sports/nhl/5034237-74/shanahan-player-leetch#axzz2kBJe2AM7
Radio/TV appearances for Sunday…
Rossi: The Subway Final Word – joined by Trib columnist Dejan Kovacevic and The X’s Mark Madden – AFTER late local news (WPXI).
She will hate this. She will.
Not because she hates Bruce Springsteen, though she is the only person on the planet who is allowed to hate Bruce Springsteen.
She will hate this because she has never been known to like a fuss, a big deal, a calling of attention to her.
So, yes, she will hate this.
However, since learning of her impending return to Buffalo (another place where a Cup banner would look proper), those of us who know this woman have tried preparing ourselves not to miss her too much.
She leaves behind many memories – especially at Smokin’ Joe’s Saloon; ask any hockey scribe to visit our fair city over the last eight years.
Those memories will not make up for her departure, but home is the place for everyone in the end.
Her homecoming feels more like a beginning, though.
So, Jess Koller, consider this one last call – not to change your mind; just to say I miss you, baby.
Be Excellent to each other,