Sidney Crosby

Crosby, Penguins produce Lemieux-like magic


Earlier tonight, PHT asked if Sidney Crosby could match the kind of magic that Mario Lemieux exhibited during his comeback from retirement in 2000. Sure there are some differences – particularly the quality of the teams they faced – but the 2011-12 Pittsburgh Penguins produced a remarkably similar night as Lemieux’s team did on Dec. 27, 2000. Let’s take a look at the shared qualities:

  • Crosby and Lemieux made big plays in their first shifts, although Mario was the one who scored a goal while Crosby’s setup for Chris Kunitz didn’t hit the net. Crosby didn’t take much time to correct that – and in dramatic fashion – though.
  • Both had big nights overall, as Crosby scored two goals and two assists while Lemieux produced a tally and two helpers. (The especially impressive part is that Crosby produced those points in far less ice time than Lemieux; Crosby played a little under 16 minutes while Lemieux logged 20:46 in his retirement return.)
  • The scores were an identical 5-0; Garth Snow stopped 40 shots while Marc-Andre Fleury turned aside 29. Both the 2000-01 Toronto Maple Leafs and tonight’s New York Islanders could do little to slow the Penguins down, even if their shot totals showed that they weren’t just rolling over. (OK, maybe the Isles rolled over a bit … )
  • Lemieux and Crosby’s famous partners in crime showed up in a big way in those games, too. Jaromir Jagr had the same results as Crosby (two goals and two assists) while Evgeni Malkin generated a goal and an assist.

Looking ahead

So here’s the interesting wrinkle: Lemieux managed to be a Hart Trophy finalist after he scored a dazzling 76 points in just 43 games (in the mucky Dead Puck Era, no less). If Crosby can play in every remaining contest of the 2011-12 season, he’ll hit the 62-game mark, so he can look at Lemieux’s impressive run as motivation for an improbable attempt to win another MVP.

That’s a pretty tough mark to reach, but at this point, are you really comfortable doubting what Crosby can do?

NHL on NBCSN ’15-16 coverage begins tonight with doubleheader

Corey Crawford, Derek Stepan
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After months of waiting, we’re finally ready to begin the 2015-16 campaign and NBCSN will kick off its coverage with a doubleheader tonight.

The action will begin with the Chicago Blackhawks hosting the New York Rangers, starting at 8:00 p.m. ET.

Chicago has been called a dynasty by some for winning the Stanley Cup three times over the last six campaigns, but one thing that the Blackhawks haven’t done is successfully defend a title. The last team to do so was the Detroit Red Wings in 1997-98 before the salary cap era kicked off. That change was on display this summer as the Blackhawks were forced to move or otherwise walk away from Johnny Oduya, Kris Versteeg, Patrick Sharp, Antoine Vermette, Brad Richards, and Brandon Saad in the name of cap compliance.

Even after losing all those pieces of their 2015 championship team though, Chicago has emerged from the summer with much of its core intact. It also has some promising new players, such as 23-year-old KHL star Artemi Panarin, who is attempting to make the leap to the NHL after outscoring former teammate Ilya Kovalchuk on his way to leading SKA St. Petersburg to a KHL championship.

The New York Rangers should be a great first test for the Blackhawks as they begin their new quest. The Rangers advanced to at least the Eastern Conference Final in three of the last four years, but they haven’t earned a championship since 1994. With Henrik Lundqvist set to celebrate his 34th birthday in March, the Rangers’ window for winning the Cup in front of their all-star goaltender is closing and thus the stakes are high for New York this season.

Starting at 10:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN will air the San Jose Sharks’ contest against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center. This is the second straight year that these two teams have been matched for the opener, but this time it’s under much different circumstances.

A year ago, Los Angeles had its sights set on defending its title while the Sharks were seeking revenge after suffering a reverse sweep in the first round against the Kings. In the end, neither team had the season they were looking for as they both fell short of the playoffs.

For the Sharks, that miss ended a playoff streak that dated back to the 2003-04 campaign while Los Angeles suffered its first major setback since it celebrated its first championship in 2012. Both teams have to be hungry to bounce right back this season and given that each both of these squads are certainly capable of obtaining that goal. First though, they need to settle the latest chapter of their rivalry.

PHT Morning Skate: Remembering 10 years of Crosby, Ovechkin

Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin
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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Here’s a detailed look back at Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin‘s first 10 years in the NHL. (

Speaking of Crosby, he’s signed a multiyear partnership with adidas. (Newswire)

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will play a key role in easing Connor McDavid into the NHL. (Edmonton Sun)

After two polar opposite seasons, the jury is still out on Patrick Roy as a head coach. (Denver Post)

Marc-Andre Fleury enjoys pulling off pranks on his teammates. “I play better when I’m looser, laughing and having fun,” he said. (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

Art McDonald, a Canadian who won recently won a Nobel Prize, talked to the committee members about the Toronto Maple Leafs. (SB Nation)