What Concussion? Sidney Crosby Dazzles In NHL Return
59 seconds of icetime was all it took before the hockey world knew that “Sid the Kid” was not merely healthy – he was officially back.
Taking a pass from Pascal Dupuis at centre ice at the start of his second shift, Pittsburgh Penguins Captain Sidney Crosby flew into the offensive zone like a man possessed once the puck arrived on his blade. After blowing the doors off of helpless defenceman Andrew MacDonald, he fired a backhander with a level of speed and accuracy that outweighed many players’ best shots on their forehand, making no mistake in rifling the puck into the upper portion of rookie Anders Nilsson’s net.
An understandably relieved Crosby celebrated in the ensuing euphoria, gliding on one leg and pumping both fists as he screamed something along the lines of “puck yeah” in an emotional release of pent-up frustration from the most trying ten months of his life.
Astonished by what my eyes had just seen, I suddenly realized that I shouldn’t really be surprised at all, nor should anyone else be – that type of a display on the rink was the stuff of legends, and Sidney Crosby continues to find new ways to amaze his onlookers with each passing game.
He specializes in the miraculous, in taking fellow players, media personalities and fans aback and making the game of hockey look ridiculously simple – which is exactly what he did at the CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh on Monday night. If the game was indeed a test as many pundits said, consider it passed with flying colours.
Crosby later added another goal along with two assists, single-handedly leading his Penguins to a 5-0 win over the New York Islanders, and being named the game’s first star for his efforts. As expected, Crosby played considerably less minutes than he would in mid-season so as to help ease him into his return – 15:54 of icetime over 21 shifts.
To say he made the most out of that would be a colossal understatement. He even blocked a shot during the last minute of the game to help preserve goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury’s second shutout of the season and the 21st of his career, putting him just one shy of two-time Cup champion Tom Barrasso for the franchise record in that category.
“The atmosphere was very electric,” Fleury noted. “It was just loud and fun. You couldn’t have written it any better.”
Penguins Coach Dan Bylsma echoed the feelings of many in his post-game address when asked if he expected what his captain achieved in his first NHL contest since January.
"You have the sense that that's going to happen, maybe because it's happened on many occasions," Bylsma said. “I was maybe a little bit more hesitant than (his teammates) were, but they weren't surprised at all to see him come out there and do some of those things. He certainly showed another knack for coming up big when the spotlight is on."
The atmosphere in the arena on Monday night added to the lustre of the evening – a deafening crowd chanting “Let’s Go Sid!” time and time again throughout the game, for the final time all the way through the final minute of the third period as they acknowledged the fact that their beloved son was back, and seemingly better than ever. Pascal Dupuis was quoted as saying that it was as loud as he’s ever heard the building.
The Penguins are in action next at home tomorrow night against the St. Louis Blues. We have yet to see what type of magic Sidney Crosby has in store for an encore, but you can rest assured that he’ll be hard-pressed to duplicate the enchanting thrill of last night’s return performance – by saying that, the opportunity is now there for him to come through and once again astound us all for the umpteenth time.