Sidney Crosby

Bylsma on Crosby’s playing time: “Shooting for around the 15-minute mark”


Dan Bylsma is ready to proceed with Sidney Crosby’s comeback, but he’s going to proceed with caution.

That was the message Thursday as the Penguins head coach explained how he’ll handle the allotment of No. 87’s ice time.

Watch Penguins-Rangers on Thursday on NBCSN (7:30 p.m ET)

“I think this time, shooting for around the 15-minute mark in the game is more likely,” Bylsma told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “Given the fact we’re playing three [games] in four [nights] and getting him back in the lineup again for the first time in a while.”

Crosby’s ice-time — or, how to manage it — was an issue during his initial comeback. While Crosby was limited to just 15:54 in his first game against the Islanders, he quickly regained his usual heavy workload, culminating with a season-high 21:03 of ice time against the Bruins on Dec. 5.

That, of course, was the last game he played.

To his credit, Bylsma has developed a pretty clever plan to limit Crosby’s minutes this time around — he’ll skate No. 87 on the third line with Tyler Kennedy and Matt Cooke, who average 14:43 and 15:43 respectively.

Here’s Bylsma’s full explanation (from the Penguins website):

If there was another combination or if it was [Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis], it would be a lot tougher to keep him at 15 minutes. Last time, when he hopped back in there, he was right back with 14 and 9 and he was right at 19, 20, 21 minutes right in his first couple of games.

Again, wanting to get him back in the mix, but also a little bit more – well, you don’t pace Sidney Crosby – but keeping his minutes a little bit closer to 15 is what we’re looking at. That’s one of the reasons for putting him with 24 and 48.

I’ve always told him he could be a Selke winner. He’s going to have his chance here with Cooke and Kennedy.

In a related story, I enjoy how Bylsma constantly refers to his players by number. Wonder if he does that away from the rink? “Hey 71, I think 45 fell asleep at the back of the plane. Go get 29 to wake him up.”

Patrick Kane’s streak hits 19 games, setting a new American record

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When it comes to point streaks for U.S.-born NHL players, Patrick Kane now stands alone.

With a power-play goal early in Saturday’s Blackhawks – Kings game, Kane extended his streak to 19 games, breaking a tie with Phil Kessel and Eddie Olczyk (who finished with at least a point in 18 straight).

As of this writing, Kane has 11 goals and 19 assists during this 19-game streak. He also leads the NHL in scoring.

Bobby Hull’s 21-game point streak stands as the Chicago Blackhawks’ overall team record, by the way.

So, how would you protect a lead against the Stars?


You know what they say: it’s easy to bash a strategy in hindsight.

Slam that NFL head coach for going for it on fourth down … or settling for the field goal. Bury that MLB manager because he kept a pitcher in too long. And so on.

“Score effects” settle in during almost any lopsided hockey game, yet the Dallas Stars present quite a conundrum: what’s the best way to put a way a team with this much firepower?

Tonight may have presented the greatest evidence that this team won’t go away easy, as it seemed like the Minnesota Wild had the best of a tired Stars team* when they built a 3-0 lead.

Instead, the Stars scored three third-period goals while Tyler Seguin capped the comeback with an overtime-winner.

It was one of those bend-and-then-break moments for Minnesota. Dallas generated a 44-26 shot advantage, including a ridiculous 35-15 edge in the final two periods.

Does that mean that Mike Yeo may have tried to play too conservatively with a healthy lead? It’s a possibility.

On the other hand, would the Wild be wiser to try to run-and-gun with one of the most dangerous offenses in the NHL?

It sure seems like a pick-your-poison situation. Which way would you lean, though?

* – To be fair to Minnesota, each team was on back-to-backs.

Price paid: Devils come back against Condon, Canadiens

Mike Condon, John Moore,
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If nothing else, the New Jersey Devils seem like they won’t be the sort of team a contender can essentially mark off as a “W” on their calendars.

The Montreal Canadiens may not be in a position to take opponents lightly with Carey Price on the shelf, but whatever the case may be, they saw their four-game winning streak end in frustrating fashion on Saturday.

After falling behind 2-0, the Devils scrapped their way back into it, eventually riding a John Moore overtime goal to a 3-2 OT win.

If Montreal needs an obvious bright side to look on considering this hiccup, Alex Galchenyuk‘s hot weekend may be a good thing to look at.

Tonight’s loss may smart a bit anyway, however.

Metro’s best? Capitals keep winning, pass Rangers for division lead

Jonathan Bernier; Matt Niskanen; Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau

If you want to summarize the Capitals – Maple Leafs game in one sentence, you could do worse than:

“Washington is hot as Jonathan Bernier is cold.”

The Caps reeled off a 4-2 win against Toronto on Saturday, giving them five straight wins. They also jumped into first place in the Metropolitan Division today, as they keep climbing while the New York Rangers are experiencing some growing pains.

Again, James Reimer can’t get healthy and back in Toronto’s net too soon:

With this win, Washington is now 17-5-1, leading the Metro by one point with 35 standings points. They also hold a game in hand against the Rangers, and no other Metro team even has 30 right now.

Measuring stick stretch begins

Tonight’s game began a “prove-it” month-and-change for Washington.

This contest began a three-game road trip, and they’ll also play six of seven away from Washington.

It’s pretty rough through the start of 2016, really. The Capitals will only enjoy three home games through Jan. 9.

In other words, the Capitals seem like a convincing East contender, but look out if they remain hot through the next 5-6 weeks.