Crosby sees leading concussion specialists; agent asks for “patience and understanding”

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There have been reports that Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby experienced headaches in the wake of his January concussion that caused him to alter his workouts. Today, the team confirmed the reports saying that once he reached ninety percent exertion in his workouts, “he started having some headaches again.” For fans following every single report as the superstar works his way back to the ice, today’s news simply confirms that Crosby experienced the concussion-like symptoms and had to slowdown his path to recovery.

Crosby finally issued a public statement, albeit a short, prepared statement that didn’t shed much light on his health. “I appreciate all the support I’ve received from my family, friends, teammates and fans and from the entire Penguins organization,” Crosby said. “I know they only want the best for my health, and for me to be fully ready when I return to game action.”

Crosby’s agent Pat Brisson had plenty to say as he stressed that today’s news is not a setback in anyway. Concussions take time and Crosby never had a specific date for full clearance. People around the hockey world may have put certain deadlines on his recovery, but neither the Penguins, nor Crosby have a specific date in mind.  As concussions aren’t black-and-white situations, Crosby has had the Penguins’ blessing to see a couple of leading specialists in the United States to aid in his recovery:

“We always knew this was going to be a progressive recovery – based on how he felt. With a concussion, there is not a finite recovery period like with a shoulder injury or a knee injury. That’s why we’ve never even set a specific goal for a return date like the start of training camp or Oct. 1 or anything else. He will play when he is symptom free.”

“We’ve had him see leading specialists because we want to make sure he gets the best care possible. The Penguins always encourage their players to get second and third medical opinions and have been very supportive of this. And we’ve been talking to Ray Shero every step of the way.”

It’s ironic that his comments (and his agents) come only a day after a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writer said that Crosby owed it to the hockey world to keep everyone informed of his situation.

There’s no doubt that Crosby will continue to do anything he can to get onto the ice as soon as possible. The frustrating part of a concussion is there is no set timetable for recovery. As frustrating as an ACL injury can be to an athlete, at least all parties involved understand that it’s a 9-12 month recovery. No one asks a player if he’s almost ready to return three weeks after he blows his knee out. But in the case of a concussion—no one knows if it will take 10 days or 10 months to recover.

Or worse.

Bruce Arthur of the National Post understands that no matter when Crosby returns, there’s a chance that he won’t be the same player:

“So many players have never been the same after suffering a concussion this severe, or at least, that has lasted this long. Eric Lindros, Paul Kariya, Pat LaFontaine, Keith Primeau, Savard, on and on. Not every concussion opens a window to more concussions. Maybe this is the only brain injury Sidney Crosby will ever suffer, and he will fulfill the promise of being a generation-defining player. He is just 23.”

The worst part about Arthur’s comment is that he wrote it six month ago—yet we still have no more clarity today than we did in February. Obviously, speculation and negative forecasts are the last things on Team Crosby’s minds. Predictably, they are asking fans to remain patient as the four-time all-star tries to work his way back to the Penguins next season:

“We would appreciate patience and understanding at this time. There has been a lot of speculation swirling over the past several weeks. We wish we could provide more specific details about Sidney’s recovery, but a concussion is a different kind of injury. It’s not something you can check with an x-ray. And you can’t predict a precise recovery period. It’s all about the way he feels.”

For the good of the Penguins and fans all over the NHL, hopefully his recovery period is nearing its conclusion.

Ovechkin shrugs off Caps’ Game 1 loss in very Ovechkin way

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You know, it happens. Maybe not always in those exact words.

The Washington Capitals carried the play during portions of their 3-2 Game 1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, and even down 1-0 in the series, just about every player seemed happy with their overall game.

(Granted, Braden Holtby picked apart two of the three goals he allowed, and so on.)

Still, Alex Ovechkin shrugged off the disappointment in a way that wasn’t quite Rated R, but probably ranks in the PG-13 range:

The penalty element is interesting, though.

When asked after the loss about the lack of power plays, Matt Niskanen merely offered a “no comment.”

The Penguins experienced some sprawling moments, yet they avoided taking a penalty each time. Often, when a team carries long sequences of play, they’ll go on the PP (especially with home-ice advantage) … but not the Capitals in Game 1.

via Natural Stat Trick

It’s a situation to watch as the Capitals hope to even the series against the Penguins with Game 2 coming on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET on NBC. (You can watch online, via the NBC Sports App and follow the livestream here).

Holtby takes blame for two big goals in Caps’ loss to Pens

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It’s just about a consensus that the Washington Capitals believed that they generally played a strong game despite falling 3-2 to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Braden Holtby‘s teammates likely wouldn’t agree with his assessment that the Game 1 loss is on his shoulders, but the perennial Vezina candidate took the blame for Sidney Crosby‘s first goal of the night and Nick Bonino‘s game-winner.

Noting that the Penguins are a dangerous rush team – making them a different threat than the Toronto Maple Leafs – Holtby believes that he should have had his glove in position to stop the 1-0 goal. He said he’s capable of making such a stop and “will next time.” Check out Crosby’s two goals below, with Holtby having a beef with the first one:

It’s really difficult to place too much blame on Holtby for giving up Nick Bonino’s game-winner, as it seemed like a great rush play that few goalies would be able to stop.

Judge for yourself in the highlights:

The Penguins were ultimately able to take a 1-0 series lead, but the Capitals seem capable of shrugging off questions about frustrations, even with naysayers starting to gain confidence in claiming that there will be more than the same.

If Washington’s going to get over this big hurdle, Holtby is likely to be a big part in doing so.

Fleury, Penguins hang on for Game 1 win against Capitals

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The Pittsburgh Penguins pulled off a 3-2 Game 1 win against the Washington Capitals, but Thursday’s thriller probably prompted a sigh of relief.

(Washington, meanwhile, might have uttered a sigh at such unpleasantly familiar feelings.)

The first period ended 0-0 in part thanks to Jake Guentzel‘s sprawling “kick save.” Business really picked up in the second after Sidney Crosby raced off to two quick goals, only for Alex Ovechkin to give Washington a shot thanks to a booming goal and some physical play.

It sure felt like this one might head to overtime, especially after Evgeny Kuznetsov was tying things up and flapping his arms like wings. That was not to be, however, as Nick Bonino took advantage of a pretty area pass to beat Braden Holtby for the decisive tally.

Now, it was only decisive because Marc-Andre Fleury was at the top of his game. Oh, and also because the Penguins did a collective Guentzel impression in frantically denying a tying tally.

Makes you want to wipe some sweat from your brow, eh?

The Capitals dominated by just about every statistical measure … except, of course, goals on the scoreboard. Pittsburgh will gladly take that 1-0 series lead, then.

Expect a desperate Washington team in Game 2, which airs at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday. You can watch it online and via the NBC Sports App (click here for the livestream link).

Karlsson makes difference for Senators vs. Lundqvist, Rangers

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Swedish superstars Henrik Lundqvist and Erik Karlsson were both stupendous in Game 1 between the New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators.

Still, it was Karlsson’s game-winning goal (from a seemingly impossible angle) against Lundqvist that made the difference as the Senators beat the Rangers 2-1 on Thursday. With that, the Senators are up 1-0 in the series.

That Karlsson goal really deserves a special look.

Whether you blame that 2-1 tally on Lundqvist or not, the Rangers would be foolish to do anything but praise their red-hot franchise goalie. He stopped all 21 Senators shots in the first period and ultimately made 41 out of 43 stops in defeat.

Craig Anderson was strong in his own right, mind you, stopping 34 out of 35 shots (including all 28 at even-strength) to help Ottawa take that tight contest.

Anderson’s strong play highlights the fact that Rangers – Senators doesn’t merely come down to Lundqvist vs. Karlsson … but even so, both Swedish superstars really did stand out in this one.

Game 2 airs on NBC at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday. You can also watch online and via the NBC Sports App; click here for the livestream link.