It’s been over 10 months since Sidney Crosby has played in a NHL game thanks to his concussion, but he’s playing tonight against the Islanders. After such a long layoff it’s only natural to expect there to be some rustiness in Crosby’s play, but just how is he going to shine tonight with the eyes of the hockey world all dialed in on his return?
What we know about tonight is that coach Dan Bylsma will look to play Crosby for about 15 minutes worth of ice time. It’s enough to get him going well enough and not be more of a wallflower in his first game back. It also means that he’s not going to be thrown into the same play dominating role we’re accustomed to seeing out of Sid as well.
Crosby will be eased into things and have a pair of familiar linemates in Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis. What will be curious to see is just how much Bylsma plays Crosby on the power play. The Penguins’ power play has long had issues but this season they’ve done well clicking along at 18.4%, good for 11th in the league. It would make sense that if there’s a time for Sid to get in a groove the power play would be it.
Will Crosby score in his first game back though? Anything is possible, but he’s dominated in the past against the Islanders (62 points in 33 games) and the Isles are mired in a miserable start to their year with Rick DiPietro likely getting the call to start. If ever there was a set up so that Crosby could have the story book comeback game and shine, this is it.
Brian Campbell doesn’t score as many points as he used to, but he came up with a huge goal against the Red Wings on Sunday afternoon.
With the game tied, 1-1, in overtime, Campbell skated into the slot and beat Petr Mrazek with a perfect wrister to end the game.
It was also a pretty nice passing play between Jussi Jokinen, Jonathan Huberdeau and Campbell.
Dylan Larkin opened the scoring in the second period before Reilly Smith leveled the score with just over five minutes remaining.
The Wings have blown a lead in three straight games.
Detroit was up 2-0 and 3-2 in their last game, against Edmonton, before they finally closed the game out with an overtime goal by Niklas Kronwall.
They weren’t so fortunate against the Bruins on Wednesday, as they lost 3-2 in OT after leading 2-1 with under two minutes remaining in regulation.
This was the first meeting of the season between Detroit and Florida, but they’ll see each other three times between Feb. 4 and Mar. 19.
You can’t blame Mike Babcock for siding with the relatively unknown when the other option is Jonathan Bernier, a goalie who’s 0-8-1 so far in 2015-16.
With that in mind, meet Garret Sparks, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ expected starter for Monday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers.
Sparks was a seventh-round pick (190th overall) in 2011, a guy who was off to a great start in the AHL. That much wasn’t lost on Babcock.
Let’s face it, though; this is as much about the Leafs’ other two goalies as it is about Sparks (whose name inspired a very obscure reference in this post’s headline).
In Bernier’s case, there’s an “enough’s enough” feel:
Meanwhile, James Reimer‘s not quite healthy enough to play yet, so the window of opportunity is open for Sparks … a little bit.
Sparks will get a chance to make an impression, even if it’s just a small one.
So far, the 2015-16 crop of rookies is living up to the hype, if not exceeding it. Connor McDavid‘s unfortunate injury hasn’t even derailed this year’s crop.
The Detroit Red Wings are watching their own blue chip blossom, as Dylan Larkin is making an instant impact.
No. 71 scored his 10th goal of the season against the Florida Panthers on Sunday, fattening his rookie goals lead.
He still needs five points to match rookie points leader Artemi Panarin, though.
There’s one thing we seem to know about Carey Price‘s injury situation: he first got hurt stepping on a puck on Oct. 29, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.
Contrary to earlier reports about him missing about a month, it sounds like his window of recovery is still up in the air (which, to be fair, could mean that he’ll still miss about a month when it’s all said and done).
ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that Price underwent testing with Montreal’s team doctor on Saturday and is expected to go through more; we may not know more about his expected injury timeline until early this coming week.
So, basically, Price’s situation is fuzzier than his mustache right now.
Leg injuries can be tricky anyway, so we shouldn’t be too surprised that there are mixed signals regarding Price, and this may remain a fluid situation for some time.
(But we’ll hopefully know more soon enough.)