Sometimes the toughest stories to find are the ones right in front of us. I’ve thought this now for a couple days about Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, and it’s what I wrote about in Thursday’s Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
Crosby, as I expected, was in no hurry to talk about essentially, with his lights-out play, sticking it to everyone who questioned him following the playoff fallout last season. So I went elsewhere.
Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and defenseman Kris Letang spoke passionately about Crosby being the best player in the world, how they’re not surprised that he’s been so good and how he’s been a pleasure to watch with six points and three goals in two games.
Letang said all players go through slumps, and that’s what last spring was for Crosby, nothing more. He also offered this quote that didn’t make my story. I find it interesting because these guys have seen Crosby play this way for years, why should this season be any different?
Yet after what happened against the Rangers and the summer that followed, it’s hard to deny there’s a different feel around the team these days.
“Was I worried? No. Am I happy for him? Yeah,” Letang said. “For me to look at him playing the way he plays, it’s just normal for me. I see him doing that all that time. Sometimes it doesn’t go in. You never know. There are so many other things going on right now. I’m really happy for him.”
A few other things to touch on:
>>The team called up defenseman Scott Harrington last week. I’ve been told this wasn’t so he could watch NHL games from the press box. Or so he could see what regular season travel is like. Harrington should and will play soon, it’s only a matter of when.
Fact is, with four days between games, there’s no way head coach Mike Johnston is going to give someone a night off. No need. You don’t take any of the Top Four out, not if you actually want to win, so that leaves us with Rob Scuderi and Simon Despres.
Has Despres done anything to warrant getting yanked? I don’t think so. Scuderi has struggled, especially on the PK. I find it interesting what could happen here. I think some other people do, too.
Here’s what Johnston said today when he was asked about Harrington:
“As with the goalie rotation, right now we don’t have a lot of games,” Johnston said. “It starts to heat up next week. Our intent would be to start to work a player like that in as we move into next week when we have three games in four nights.
“Our lineup is playing well right now. Our defense group, I like the mixture. I like the way they’ve been playing. We’re not going to force them into the lineup, but we’re going to make sure that we get him in and get him some game action.”
>>Oskar Sundqvist and Kasperi Kapanen had strong debuts with their European teams over the weekend, as both tallied assists. Kapanen helped KalPa of the Finnish League to a 2-0 victory over Karpat. Sundqvist and Skelleftea won, 3-2, over Djurgarden.
>>Thursday night against the Stars could be a busy night for milestones. Crosby needs two assists for 500 in his career. … Craig Adams needs one assist for 100 for his career (cue the jokes). … Nick Spaling is playing in his 300th NHL game. … Pascal Dupuis is two points away from 400 for his career. … and Evgeni Malkin needs one point to take over sole possession of fourth place on the team’s all-time list.
Hockey Night in Pittsburgh tomorrow. Can’t wait.
Be GRATEFUL to each other,