Dan Bylsma has a problem on his hands — a problem 29 other coaches would love to have.
With the Pens set to face the Blues tonight in Sidney Crosby’s second game back from a concussion, Bylsma revealed he’s worried about No 87’s ice time.
“I’m still worried about the minutes Crosby is going to play and with playing four games in six nights, managing those minutes with our team,” Bylsma said in his morning presser. “Players don’t do very good jobs at managing their ice time. We’re going to keep an eye on it. The situation will dictate it. I would still like to see him be under the 18-minute mark for the next couple of games. Don’t hold me to that promise.”
Crosby played 21 shifts for 15:54 of ice time against the Islanders — seven shifts in the first period, eight in the second, six in the third — but saw his TOI decrease as the game wore on (7:10 in the opening frame, 8:44 after that). Playing Crosby a shade over 15 minutes was justifiable in a blowout win, but Byslma knows it’ll be tougher holding Crosby back when the games get tighter and the competitiveness fires up.
“I was hoping to keep him around 15 minutes when he was at seven in the first period,” Bylsma said. “I was a little concerned that it was too high. There were power plays that dictated that. He, however, was saying he felt great.”
In addition to the 18-minute thing, Bylsma also revealed we should expect to see Crosby and Evgeni Malkin playing together “in certain circumstances.” The two skated together a couple times in the third period against New York and were on Pittsburgh’s first-unit powerplay.
And as for what Crosby’s thinking in terms of ice time?
“That’ll be up to Dan,” he said. “We’ll see how the game goes. Hopefully with each game it will get a little bit easier to get more minutes. It really depends on the game. I would hope the minutes go up with each game.”
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.
–Blackhawks goalie Scott Darling did something incredible for a person in need. (USA Today)
–Sens forward Kyle Turris can relate to what Jonathan Drouin is going through. (Tampa Bay Times)
—Matt Duchene built a special bond with a young Avs fan who’s been dealing with cancer. (Sportsnet)
—Milan Lucic wrote a letter to Boston for The Players’ Tribune. (The Players’ Tribune)
–Devils fans say “thank you” to former goaltender Martin Brodeur:
–Take a look at Nicklas Backstrom‘s first NHL All-Star game experience. (Monumental Network)
The New Jersey Devils on Monday unveiled ‘The Salute’ — a statue paying homage to one of the greatest goalies in NHL history, Martin Brodeur, who will have his No. 30 uniform retired Tuesday at Prudential Center.
“Looking at the pictures of my career and some of the events that meant a lot to me, I always saluted the fans,” Brodeur, a three-time Stanley Cup winner with the Devils, told the Fire and Ice blog.
“That picture, at different times, in different jerseys, actually, like with Team Canada, it all came to that same pose.”
More on the statue from the Devils:
The 900-pound bronze statue was created by renowned sculpture and artist Jon Krawczyk, who worked with Brodeur on the design. Krawczyk, a Boonton Township, N.J. native and lifelong Devils fan, who also created the hockey statue on Championship Plaza outside of Prudential Center, personally drove “The Salute” from his Malibu, Cali. studio to the arena late last week.
The Florida Panthers are fuming after their skilled 20-year-old forward Aleksander Barkov left Monday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings following a hit from Justin Abdelkader.
Abdelkader caught Barkov with a hard hit near the goal line as the Panthers player tried to move the puck up ice early in the second period.
The only call on the play was to Panthers’ blue liner Alex Petrovic for the retaliatory cross check on Abdelkader. Barkov left the game and didn’t return with an upper-body injury.
Members of the Panthers irate with the hit, and the fact there was no call.
“It was a cheap hit, I don’t know how the ref didn’t call it,” Nick Bjugstad told the Miami Herald. “It was frustrating, the whole bench felt that way. We’re not happy with it. It turned the game around. Barkov has tough shoes to fill. It looked pretty serious. We’ll see how the league handles it and I think they will. I just don’t know how it wasn’t handled on the ice.”
“You hate to lose your top player, but that’s part of the game,” added Panthers’ head coach Gerard Gallant.
“We’re disappointed to lose him. I thought it was a cheap shot but the referees didn’t see it that way and explained to me it was a clean check. It’s tough. It happens quick and we get to see the replay. I think it’ll be looked at. [Abdelkader] left his feet a little and got him in the jaw.”
The Panthers gave up three goals in the third period in a 3-0 loss to the Red Wings.
In a meeting between two clubs enjoying hot streaks and their own subsequent climbs through the standings, the Pittsburgh Penguins bested the Anaheim Ducks courtesy another dominant Sidney Crosby performance on Monday.
After that slow start, Crosby has put together a growing number of dominant performances of late.
The latest, a four-point night, helped the Penguins to a 6-2 final over the Ducks, stopping Anaheim’s winning streak at six games.
— He extended his scoring streak to a career best seven games, and did so with two beauty goals versus the Ducks.
— From Dec. 18 to Feb. 8, he’s appeared in 21 games. In that span, he’s recorded 34 points.
— Crosby is now into the top five among NHL players in points, with 53 in 51 games this season.
He wasn’t the only Pittsburgh player to have a big night. Keep in mind, Evgeni Malkin wasn’t even in the lineup due to a lower-body injury.
Ten different Penguins players recorded points. In addition to Crosby, Chris Kunitz and Kris Letang had multi-point efforts, and four players — Kunitz, Crosby, Olli Maatta and Patric Hornqvist — were plus-four.
The Penguins now move into third in the Metropolitan Division, while the New York Islanders slip into the first Wild Card spot in the East. Pittsburgh’s lead over the Islanders, however, is only one point.
The Islanders also have a game in hand.