Pittsburgh Penguins v New York Rangers

Penguins win 10th in a row in Crosby and Letang’s return


Sidney Crosby’s second return of the 2011-12 season didn’t have the Beatles-playing-in-Shea-Stadium feel that his first one did, but the Pittsburgh Penguins aren’t complaining about the results.

They looked downright scary during much of a 5-2 win against the New York Rangers, and while Evgeni Malkin whiffed on an angry check and scored a beautiful goal, it was all about Crosby’s line and fellow returning hero Kris Letang.

You can see video of Matt Cooke scoring during Crosby’s first shift back here and watch Sid the Kid’s assist on a Chris Kunitz goal below:

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Here are the relevant stats for Crosby and Letang – who had an especially astounding night:

Crosby: one assist, +3 rating, one shot on goal, 11-10 on faceoffs, exactly 16 minutes of ice time
Letang: one assist, +5 rating, two shots on goal (plus a ding off the post), a game-high 24:22 time on ice

Matt Cooke sort of stole the show with two goals, but the Penguins roared through that game against their division foes.

A look at the Atlantic race

(1) Rangers: 95 points with 12 games left, 41 regulation/OT wins
(4) Penguins: 91 points with 13 games left, 34 regulation/OT wins
(5) Flyers: 89 points with 12 games left, 38 regulation/OT wins

The Penguins have one game left against the Rangers and three remaining against the Flyers, so the Atlantic race should be awfully interesting going down the stretch. In fact, Pittsburgh’s schedule is pretty formidable overall – but if tonight’s game is any indication – its lineup is far scarier.


One last thought: the real winners of the Atlantic race are hockey fans, as the 4/5 matchup looks almost certainly to be a match between the second and third best team in the division. Are you getting excited about the playoffs yet?

Oilers get Kronwall’d – in more ways than one

Niklas Kronwall
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When someone gets clobbered by Niklas Kronwall, they get Kronwall’d.

(His detractors may insist that the definition require the words “dirty” or “illegal,” but that’s a debate for another day.)

It’s easy to get lost in those thunderous hits and forget that the  Swedish defenseman also brings some skill to the table.

He made a big impact – literally and figuratively – in Detroit’s 4-3 overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.

First, the Kronwalling:

Next, Kronwall’s overtime-winner:

It hasn’t always been pretty, but the Red Wings are leaning on guys like Kronwall and Dylan Larkin to stick with it.

Tonight’s win extends their point streak to six games (4-0-2), with five of those contests going to overtime.

Dubinsky – Crosby’s nemesis – gets the last laugh on Friday

Sidney Crosby, Brandon Dubinsky

Brandon Dubinsky isn’t a household name like Sidney Crosby is, yet for all the hype that Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin gets, Dubinsky is the sort of guy who truly rankles No. 87.

It’s been getting that spotlight since the Columbus Blue Jackets faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a brisk playoff series, though it wouldn’t be surprising if the bad blood stemmed to Dubinsky’s days with New York.

To some, Dubinsky’s cross-check on Crosby will resonate far more than the end result of this game:

The bottom line is that he’ll get the last laugh, at least for now. (In-game, that moment merely drew a minor penalty.)

That’s because Dubinsky set up the overtime game-winner, and the cherry on the top of that spite sundae came with Crosby being on the ice when it happened:

They’re not just rubbing the Penguins the wrong way.

Even Dubinsky kind of sort of admits that he may have been in the wrong.


More and more, the Blue Jackets are looking like a nuisance … possibly one that will grind their way to an unlikely playoff berth. They improved to 8-4-0 in November after a disastrous 2-10-0 October.

In other words, there’s at least a chance that we may see these increasingly bitter rivals butt heads in another playoff series.

Eichel’s sweet snipe helps Sabres snap six-game skid

Jack Eichel
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The Buffalo Sabres probably deserved better during at least some chunks of their six-game skid, yet Jack Eichel swooped in on Friday to remind fans that there’s a light shining at the end of the tunnel.

You can watch his goal from tonight’s eventual 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes in the video above.

That’s not necessarily the absolute height of his on-ice magic, yet it clearly gave his team a lift:

Call this a healthy reminder that Eichel has the ability to change games, something Buffalo fans hope to get used to.

Report: Likely no suspension for Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan


Alain Vigneault went there in comparing Matt Beleskey‘s hit on Derek Stepan to the notorious check Aaron Rome delivered on Nathan Horton many moons ago, but the league seems to disagree.

While Rome sat through that memorable Stanley Cup Final between Boston and Vancouver, it sounds like Beleskey won’t face any further discipline, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

In the unlikely event that anything changes, PHT will make note.

The next game between the Rangers and Bruins takes place at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 11. Will these bad feelings linger?