Is Sidney Crosby a dirty player?

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dirtycrosby.jpgMaybe it’s just because it is the summer time or perhaps his gold medal winning goal forced people to eat some crow, but the cottage industry on hating Sidney Crosby dried up a bit lately.

For those of you who simply don’t have the same spring in your step unless the NHL’s golden child is getting run through the mud, you might find this little nugget interesting. A lot of bloggers are putting their own sardonic twists on Puck Daddy’s popular Mount Rushmore feature, so it’s little surprise that the irreverent Penguins blog The Pensblog created their “Mount Dirtymore” which chronicles the team’s dirtiest players of the last 20 years.

(Naturally, the “dirty” scoring system is based on the quantity of Cristina Aguileras each player “earns.”)

crosbyfights.jpgThree of the players won’t leave Penguins fans (or fans of teams who despise the Penguins) with their jaws dropped by any means: Ulf Samuelsson is a notorious villain, Matt Cooke made plenty of enemies in his career, particularly last season and Billy Tibbets … well, he’s just kind of creepy.

Yet casual fans might be surprised to see the Second Savior of the Franchise, Sidney Crosby on that Photoshop. Here is the explanation from Pensblog. (You should click on the link anyway, even if it’s just to see their “shocked faces” GIFs, which include Apollo Creed’s wife reacting to her boxer husband’s tragic in-ring death in “Rocky IV.”)

As is the case with all great players, they are constantly hounded, sticked, hooked, speared, etc., every time they hop over the bench.

Is that a built-in excuse for some of Crosby’s dirty plays? Most likely.
But you’ll be hard-pressed to find multiple clips of dudes like Kane and Toews doing this kind of stuff.

To me, there are two types of sports fans: pom-pom waving types who believe in their teams blindly and glass half-empty types who are willing to acknowledge the flaws of their favorites. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being in either group, but I subscribe to the latter club and cannot deny that the same competitive fire that drives Crosby also pushes him to do some regrettable things. The considerable communal vitriol for Crosby can be over the top at times, but he does earn at least some of that disdain by breaking the rules.

Now that you have my take, I need to know how you feel. Is Crosby a dirty player or just a competitor? Cast your vote in the poll below.


Hitch’s recipe for more goals is a pretty simple one

Ken Hitchcock, David Backes, Dmitrij Jaskin, Paul Stastny, Patrik Berglund
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Ken Hitchcock wants the Blues to spend more time attacking and less time defending.

Because hockey isn’t rocket science, that’s why.

“To score and win games in the National Hockey League…you have to spend as much time in the offensive zone as you can,” Hitchcock told the Post-Dispatch.

“When you’re occupying the offensive zone more, you’re forechecking more. When you’re occupying the offensive zone more, the goalie has to make saves. They’re having to defend more. And the opposing team takes penalties on you. So they’re all connected. … What I want to see from us is staying on the puck for longer stretches.”

According to the stats, the Blues have not been spending as much time in the offensive zone as we’re used to seeing from them. In fact, in their last 20 games, they rank in the bottom third of the league in score-adjusted Corsi. That compares to their first 20 games when they were in the top third.

The result is fewer shots, and more importantly, fewer goals. The Blues have fallen all the way to 25th in offense, averaging just 2.37 goals per game. Last year, they finished fifth (2.91).

Yes, some of that may be due to the absence of Jaden Schwartz, and he should be back soon. But there’s a reason people are watching GM Doug Armstrong as the Feb. 29 trade deadline approaches. This team could probably use another piece up front.

The Blues host Minnesota Saturday.

St. Louis has scored just five goals in its last five games.

Goalie nods: Lindback ‘really excited’ for first start in almost three weeks

Anders Lindback
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Tonight in Anaheim, Anders Lindback will make his first start for the Arizona Coyotes since Jan. 16.

The Coyotes have been riding rookie Louis Domingue since just before Christmas, but Domingue has allowed five goals in each of his last three starts, including last night’s 5-4 loss to Chicago.

Lindback’s last appearance came Tuesday in relief, when he allowed one goal on 10 shots in a 6-2 loss to the Kings.

Lindback was in goal for one of Arizona’s three victories this season over Anaheim, stopping 33 of 36 shots in a 4-3 overtime win on Nov. 9. However, his .896 save percentage ranks among the lowest in the league.

Frederik Andersen is expected to start for the Ducks.

Elsewhere…

— No word yet on a Penguins starter in Tampa, but Ben Bishop will go for the Bolts.

Cam Ward will start for the Hurricanes in Winnipeg, where Connor Hellebuyck is expected for the increasingly desperate Jets.

— Joonas Korpisalo was solid last night in Vancouver, but the Blue Jackets have not announced their starter for tonight’s game in Calgary. Karri Ramo will be in goal for the Flames.

A ‘pretty solid two-way player,’ Sundqvist to make NHL debut for Penguins

Pittsburgh Penguins' Oskar Sundqvist (49) collides with Minnesota Wild's Jason Zucker (16) in the first period of a NHL preseason hockey game in Pittsburgh, Thursday, Sept. 25, 2014. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
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The latest Penguins injuries, these ones to Evgeni Malkin and Eric Fehr, have led to an opportunity for Oskar Sundqvist.

Sundqvist will make his NHL debut for the Penguins tonight in Tampa. The 21-year-old center has five goals and 11 assists in 39 AHL games this season.

“Sunny’s a pretty solid two-way player,” coach Mike Sullivan said, per the Tribune-Review.

“I don’t think he’s going to dazzle you with flashy plays, but I think he’s a guy who plays the game the right way. He’s hard to play against because of his size. He’s got a long reach, and he’s got a good stick.”

Sundqvist was selected 81st overall by the Pens in 2012. He’ll become the fourth player out of that Pittsburgh draft class to make his NHL debut, after Olli Maatta, Derrick Pouliot, and Matt Murray.

Veteran Matt Cullen will replace Malkin on the second line, skating with wingers Carl Hagelin and Phil Kessel.

Related: Nick Bonino out ‘at least a month’ with hand injury

John Scott’s wife gives birth to twin girls

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As if John Scott wasn’t already having a great week, now he’s the proud father of twin girls.

The Montreal Canadiens shared the good news via their Twitter account today.

Scott, the unlikely 2016 All-Star Game MVP, is currently back home in Michigan; however, he’s expected to resume his career at some point with Montreal’s AHL affiliate in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

When, exactly, he suits up for the IceCaps remains to be seen, but it won’t be tonight or tomorrow.

Related: Therrien on Canadiens possibly recalling John Scott: ‘You never know’