One thing we’ve grown accustomed to from Penguins captain and superstar Sidney Crosby is that he’s generally a pretty bland guy when it comes to speaking out about anything. He’s careful with the media to a point where he’s virtually boring to talk to and when you’re arguably the biggest star in the league, you can’t help but feel just a little bit disappointed by that.
When it comes to speaking with him about his friends on the team that are struggling at the moment, however, it appears that Sid is a little bit easier to let loose with his thoughts. Such is the case when Crosby was asked about his thoughts on how struggling Pens goalie Marc-Andre Fleury is being used while he’s playing poorly. Turns out that Crosby and Pens head coach Dan Bylsma differ in their opinions on how Fleury should be used. Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review gets the low down on the coach and the Kid having philosophical differences.
Coach Dan Bylsma strongly hinted otherwise Monday. He indicated Brent Johnson will start for the Penguins at home Wednesday night — adding that Fleury, the club’s struggling franchise goalie, “doesn’t have (confidence) right now.”
Crosby’s assessment differs. He thinks Fleury needs to play his way out of a funk.
“He’s going to have good games. It’s not like he can change overnight. He’s going to put strings of games together, and he can’t do that with one game. So, you’ve got to be patient, too, and let him get back there,” he said after a practice at Southpointe Iceoplex.
“With a goalie, you’ve got to give him time. He’s got to play four or five games maybe to prove that, but to sit here and question his psyche doesn’t really give him a chance.”
Before we get into this, let’s give it up for Sidney Crosby stepping up and saying something, anything, that’s at all worth discussing and generating discussion about things going on with the Pens. Many have gotten on Crosby’s case for being a captain at such a young age, but it appears he’s ready to start acting out in the media like a captain as well by letting his thoughts be known.
Fleury’s struggles this season are certainly a big deal for the Pens who have dealt with inconsistent play in goal as well as from their power play. The Pens problems certainly aren’t limited to goaltending but the team is still winning games so it’s tough to get really worked up about how things are going. If the Pens can’t get Fleury right, however, the long term effects of that on the team this season could lead to the Pens ending up fighting a bit harder for a top spot in the Eastern Conference.
The hype surrounding Connor McDavid couldn’t be much greater, but finally expectations will start to give way to results.
The NHL career that’s been talked about for years will begin tonight when his Edmonton Oilers face St. Louis.
“It’s something that you dream of for so long,” McDavid told NHL.com. “The draft is one thing, but to finally be in this situation is another, so I’m really excited. It’s been a long road; it’s been a lot of hard work. I think a lot of guys’ stories are different in how they get here, but the one common theme is hard work and my story is not any different that way.”
McDavid has transformed the Oilers with his mere presence. Its breathed fresh optimism into a city that have watched this team struggle in its efforts to dig out of the NHL basement. One also has to wonder if Peter Chiarelli would be the team’s new general manager and Todd McLellan its new head coach if Edmonton hadn’t won the draft lottery.
But where will he lead Edmonton? Will he be just the sixth 70-point rookie of the salary cap era? Will he struggle out of the gate, putting the hype into question? Perhaps he’ll draw comparisons to Steven Stamkos, who had a modest rookie campaign by the standards of a highly regarded top pick, but has nevertheless gone on to become a superstar.
That would surprise Stamkos as the Lightning captain feels McDavid is better than he is currently. Just further proof that those lofty expectations are coming from all sides.
“You don’t want to put too much weight on his shoulders; he’s an 18-year-old kid,” Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli said. “I don’t care how good he is or how good he’ll be, it’s a lot to shoulder if you’re supposed to be the guy and you’re the only guy. Fortunately we have a lot of high-pedigree players that are high picks who have gone through similar situations that he’s going through.”
Edmonton certainly has no shortage of first overall picks, but none as highly regarded as McDavid. But then, few ever are.
Related: There’s ‘a real positive vibe’ in Buffalo, where Eichel will make NHL debut tonight
Jack Eichel didn’t disappoint in the preseason, finishing with six points in four games, including two shorthanded goals.
Tonight in Buffalo, his NHL career will start for real when the Sabres host the Ottawa Senators in regular-season action.
“It’s something I’ve dreamed of my whole life, stepping foot on that ice and making the NHL,” Eichel said, per NHL.com. “It’s kind of been a whirlwind, but you’re finally playing hockey for a living and everything you’ve done your whole life is to get to this point. It’s pretty special.”
The 18-year-old’s debut was front-page news this morning in Buffalo, where the Sabres have been among the NHL’s worst teams since last making the playoffs in 2010-11.
Granted, even with the additions of Eichel, Ryan O'Reilly, Evander Kane, Robin Lehner and Cody Franson, expectations for 2015-16 remain modest for the new-look Sabres. Certainly, a spot in the playoffs would count as a surprise.
But for the fans of a team that’s barely possessed the puck the past couple of years, it’s night and day.
“People are excited,” GM Tim Murray said earlier this week. “It’s great. They think we’ve improved, and there’s a real positive vibe, I believe.
“That’s what I said to our coaches, ‘I want everybody to be positive. I’m the only guy in the organization allowed to be negative.’ That’s the way I wanted it. If I’m the most negative guy in the city about the team, that’s pretty good.”