Monday, November 21, 2011

Sidney Crosby Returns: A Retro Diary

sidney crosby penguins
Did you enjoy Crosby's return as much as I did? I had an inkling it was going to be pretty special, so I kept a running diary of what happened. Here it is.


- We're getting a great shot of Sid's moustache. Doesn't look as bad as his playoff one. He even works on his facial hair. The man cannot be stopped.

- Elliotte Friedman says that the Penguins players thought Crosby looked good enough in practice to play a month ago. It's understandable why the Pens were as cautious as they were. Crosby is the type of player that goes to the dirty areas of the ice and initiates contact. He's going to get hit, so he better be absolutely 100%. Plus, as long as you have Crosby you're pretty much a perennial contender for the next decade, why rush it.

- As the teams come out on the ice the crowd is going wild. Their cheers are deafening when Crosby's name is announced. Apparently the Islanders are playing in this game too. I think it's the most meaningful game they've played in since 1984.

1st period

20:00 - Sid wins the draw. He's back!

19:30 - The Crosby line is buzzing already. Kunitz hits the crossbar. This game feels like a foregone conclusion. Poor Islanders.

18:10 - The announcers are talking about Crosby tentatively going through the middle with his head down. Shades of Eric Lindros are flashing before my eyes. The Islanders' defence had a chance to really drill him, but nobody jumped at it. If Dion Phaneuf was on the ice Crosby might be dead. Done cleanly, it's the right hockey play, but not sure I would defend Phaneuf's hypothetical actions. Too soon, he's a national treasure!

18:00 - Oh, Glenn Healy is in between the benches. I'll listen to what he has to say about Sid's concussion, he's an expert on having brain damage.

17:09 - Crosby watch! He's back on the ice. The Islanders have a goalie making his first NHL start. This isn't a good sign. I'd say Crosby catches up with Ovechkin's 14 points mid-way through the third period.

15:25 - Malkin has a good chance. How are the Penguins anything but the best team in the Eastern Conference? Crosby, Malkin, Neal, Staal, Letang, and Fleury.

14:36 - Crosby scores! He breaks in with speed and roofs it backhand. Well, it took him all of three shifts to get his first goal. I always thought he was a slow starter.

13:41 - It looks like Steve Staios plays for the Islanders. In my notebook it says 'insert joke', but I think that is the joke.

10:01 - Sid draws a penalty. I think Milan Jurcina looked at him the wrong way, we'll wait for the call... Cross-checking, close enough.

9:45 - Malkin, Neal, Crosby, and Letang on this powerplay. Teams should just concede the goal and save themselves the effort. Malkin rings one off the post after taking a pass from Crosby. Sid could have three points by now if it wasn't for those pesky posts.

Commercial Break - Jim Hughson just mentioned Crosby's name ten times. I know he's contractually obligated, but that's a little much. I draw the line at eight per fade-away.

3:31 - Sid tees it up for Orpik who hammers it home. A goal and an assist in his first period after being away almost a year. Well, I thoroughly enjoyed Phil Kessel's time on the top of the scoring leaderboard.

1:15 - Glenn Healy makes a valid point: why isn't Rick DiPietro starting? I don't know. Brent Johnson is safely on the Pittsburgh bench. He can't hurt him.

2nd period

20:00 - Crosby wins another draw. I think he's 5/7 at this point. When he's healthy, he takes more draws than anyone else and is consistently one of the better face-off men in the league.

17:45 - CBC clocked Crosby skating at 35 km/h. As a comparison, they clocked Kessel at just over 33 km/h on Saturday night. We don't always think of Crosby as one of the fastest players in the league, but he is - like a video game Sergei Samsonov.

16:43 - Malkin stuffs in a Kris Letang rebound, assisted by none other than Sidney Crosby. That's three points on the night for everyone counting at home.

14:23 - I just spent the last two minutes mourning the lost opportunity of drafting Crosby in fantasy hockey.

14:07 - Steve Sullivan, one of my all-time favourite Leafs who never got a chance in Toronto, tips in a Malkin pass to make it 4-0. This almost isn't fair.

12:33 - Poor John Tavares. Is this what he has to suffer through every game. Tavares is a really underappreciated player. He has such a nose for the net and seems to be in the right place at the right time. Of course, not this game, this is Sidney Crosby's game.

12:03 - Tyler Kennedy looks like a cheap knock-off version of Sid. He has the same facial hair and their faces are sort of similar, except Kennedy looks like he might have an extra chromosome rattling around somewhere. If Sidney Crosby was a Transformer, Tyler Kennedy would be a Gobot.

11:45 - Great shot of Dan Bylsma's moustache. I think there is a direct correlation between how much I trust a coach and how good their moustache is. Pat Burns rates a 10; Ron Wilson a 2. Too bad Paul MacLean is stuck in Ottawa. That's a championship level moustache.

8:53 - Healy is saying that when Crosby broke into the league he was one of the yappiest players. Now he's completely stopped chirping the other team and only talks to his teammates on the bench, further proof of his evolution as a player and a leader. This highlights how stupid it is calling him Cindy Crybaby (or whatever idiots say). He was 18! When I was 18 I was an idiot and so were you.

5:30 - Marty Reasoner is playing for the Islanders... on the powerplay. This team amazes me. The Islanders better hope their prospects are ready before Tavares is ready to jump ship because their line-up is astonishing.

5:08 - Crosby just fired a crazy backhand. I'm pretty sure it was twice as good as a Ryan Smyth slapshot.

1:53 - Wow. Bryan Rolston is on the Islanders. Unbelievable. You can't make this stuff up. The Islanders are the NHL equivalent of the Island of Misfit Toys (it's almost December, thought I would throw a Christmas joke in there).

3rd period

17:54 - Crosby works hard along the boards and just throws a backhand towards the net. It goes in. That's his second goal and fourth point on the night, surpassing the three points Mario Lemieux scored against the Maple Leafs in his first game back from retirement in 2000. It's almost as if this game was scripted.

16:57 - Tyler Kennedy hits the post. This poor goalie. The Islanders don't even give a shit anymore, also known as Ovechkining.

15:08 - Glenn Healy says face-offs aren't sexy TV. I don't particularly need to know Glenn Healy's sexual tastes, but thanks anyways, CBC.

14:12 - Aaron Asham hits Travis Hamonic along the boards and the glass pops out. To keep us entertained an old man in the crowd has taken it upon himself to dance maniacally to Cotton Eyed Joe. Somewhere, a loved one is mercifully placing a call to a retirement home.

13:14 - Matt Cooke is working hard. You know, when he isn't launching himself into people's heads he can be a pretty effective hockey player.

11:31 - Crosby just finished another dominant shift. It's amazing to think back to the Crosby draft lottery. Theoretically, any team could have had him. I was convinced that the league did a shady draft the night before to determine the order and the Maple Leafs' ball showed up at #1. Bettman looked at it and threw it in the garbage. "Alright, Pittsburgh it is!"

10:26 - Hughson and Craig Simpson are talking about how you have to play Crosby physically, but that it's so hard to do because he sees the game so well and is so evasive. They're comparing him to Wayne Gretzky in that sense. People always say Gretzky was just protected, that's why he never got him, but Denis Potvin said he always tried to lay him out, but never could, Gretzky was always one step ahead. He just thought the game faster than anyone else. Crosby is similar. The only big hit he's really taken was the one by Steckel that knocked him out, and that was only because he wasn't looking and had no reason to believe he'd ever be hit in that situation.

8:49 - Fleury with another beauty glove save. This team is quite stacked.

2:25 - Crosby, Neal, and Malkin just generated a handful of scoring chances. It's important to remember the Pens are playing the Islanders, but hot damn is this a fun team to watch.

1:00 - Fans are chanting for Crosby. Bylsma holds back Asham and gives them what they want.

0:00 - Game over. 5-0 Pens. Crosby finishes with 2 goals, 2 assists, 8 shots on goal, and wins 67% of his draws in just under 16 minutes of action.

And with that game, Crosby is back and healthy and the Pens are just another team the Leafs have to battle for a playoff spot. After tonight, that isn't something I'm looking forward to.

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