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.”
Late letdown costs Canucks versus their old rivals from Chicago
But the chance for at least a single point slipped at the worst possible time, as Jonathan Toews scored with 1:18 left in regulation and then set up an empty net goal from Marian Hossa just a few seconds later to secure the 4-2 win.
The Canucks remain stuck at five wins — just five wins — on the road. They have the 29th-ranked road record in the entire NHL. Only the Arizona Coyotes have been worse away from home ice. So, that’s a problem that needs to be fixed down the stretch.
Vancouver had a chance to move into a wild card spot. Instead, they let the Blackhawks regain momentum as the period went on, and as a result, they remain on the outside of the Western Conference playoff picture for right now.
Corey Crawford earned his 200th career win, making 26 saves. That’s a milestone night for him. For Toews, that’s his most productive night of the season, as he factored into all four Chicago goals, which, of course, included the winner.
So overtime against the New York Islanders seemed like a perfect time for captain Claude Giroux to bust his scoring slump.
Without a goal in his last 12 games, or since Dec. 21 before the holiday break, Giroux finished the Flyers comeback with an overtime goal to give Philly a 3-2 victory on Sunday. Jakub Voracek did great work along the boards to force a turnover from John Tavares, and Shayne Gostisbehere followed up his chance with a quick pass to a wide-open Giroux at the top of the crease.
That comeback win — Philly trailed by two goals early in the second period — bumps the Flyers back into a wild card spot.
Steve Mason had a big game in net for Philly, with 36 saves, while the Flyers fired 47 shots on goal toward Thomas Greiss, although it’s a difficult task trying to re-set and stop Giroux — an accomplished scorer in the NHL — on the doorstep.
Goals, goals and more goals! Blue Jackets outlast Senators for overtime win
Plenty of goals. A little three-on-three overtime. Seemed like an enjoyable afternoon of hockey between the Ottawa Senators and Columbus Blue Jackets.
Well, maybe the goalies, Mike Condon and Joonas Korpisalo, didn’t enjoy it as much.
The Blue Jackets prevailed for a 7-6 overtime win, with Cam Atkinson scoring just 1:09 into the extra period. That’s his 23rd goal of the season. Only two players — Jeff Carter (24) and Sidney Crosby (28) — have scored more goals than Atkinson this season.
With the win, and the Capitals sitting idle today, the Blue Jackets move back into a tie with Washington at 68 points in the fight for first place in the Metropolitan Division.
There were some anxious moments for Columbus.
Rookie defenseman Zach Werenski was hurt blocking a shot in the third period. He briefly left the game, unable to put any pressure on his right leg as he was helped off.
The good news: He only missed a few minutes, returning late in regulation and for the overtime as well, which is important for the Blue Jackets.
#CBJ Zach Werenski said on @FOXSportsOH post-game he "thought it was broken" and "long term" injury when he blocked the shot.
“He’s made a couple of huge mistakes in a game and he comes to the bench, shakes it off and then goes out and makes a great play. For a 19-year-old playing that position and the amount of time he’s getting in key situations with this organization, it’s pretty impressive.”
Julien: ‘We don’t have enough talent to … get away with a mediocre game’
On Saturday, Julien said he wasn’t quitting on his team. On Sunday, after another frustrating defeat, in which Boston carried the play, particularly in the second period, Julien offered a pretty frank assessment of his team and its current make up.
Scoring is a major issue for the Bruins. They’ve been terrific with puck possession, the best team in the league in that category at even strength, but they’re in the bottom third of the league when it comes to goals-for. Against the Penguins, they tested Matt Murray with 45 shots, including 22 in the second period, and could only manufacture one goal.
It didn’t help Boston’s cause that their starting goalie Tuukka Rask left the game due to migraines and didn’t return. Zane McIntyre entered the game and was ventilated for three goals in under three minutes in the third period. Game over.
And that just adds more scrutiny on the Bruins and Julien’s job security.
“Right now we’re all confident in Claude, and we all want to be here and play for him. If [saving Julien’s job] is the extra motivation you need for the games then so be it,” said Patrice Bergeron, per CSNNE.com.
“But we’re all professionals and we’re here to win hockey games. I’ve said this before that I’ve been with Claude for 10 years, and he’s the guy that I believe in and that I want to play for.”