Crosby surprised by Ovechkin’s struggles, sure he’ll bounce back


Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby vs Washington’s Alex Ovechkin. That used to be the big rivalry in hockey, but it hasn’t been that way lately.

Ovechkin has just two goals and five points in 10 games this season and those struggles have been amplified by his disappointing — at least by the high standards he’s held to — 2011-12 campaign.

So going into the Penguins’ match against the Capitals Thursday night, is Crosby surprised by his adversaries recent misfortunes?

“Yeah, a little bit,” Crosby said in a CSN Washington report. “I’ve watched a couple games and I think he’s had his chances and the puck hasn’t gone in.

“Obviously, there’s always expectations and there’s a lot hype on him and there’s pressure that comes with that. But I think he’s still shooting the puck well, still creating some chances and still someone we definitely have to be aware of. I don’t look into [two goals] as a big problem for him.

“He’s going to generate chances and I’m sure eventually the points will come.”

Meanwhile, Crosby hasn’t had any problem living up to expectations this season. He’s tied for fourth place in the NHL with 14 points in 10 games. Which begs the question, given Ovechkin’s offensive decline in recent years, is he still on Crosby’s level?

“Well, if you look at the standings of course he’s way too up, I’m way too down,” Ovechkin said. “I just have to catch him.”

The Capitals are in the NHL’s basement with a 2-7-1 record. If they don’t start that comeback soon, then they’ll be out of this playoff race before it even heats up.

Columbus collapse: Rangers spoil Blue Jackets’ opener

Jarret Stoll, Mats Zuccarello
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For a little more than a minute, Brandon Saad was going to be the story of the Columbus Blue Jackets’ opener. Instead, his power-play goal merely got the ball rolling on a flabbergasting finish.

The New York Rangers scored three goals in 1:17 of game time to manage a 4-2 win.

They’ve now spoiled home openers for the Chicago Blackhawks and Columbus Blue Jackets to begin their 2015-16 season.

It might be easiest just to show you when the goals were scored, noting that the third period began with a 1-1 tie.

Brandon Saad power-play goal: 16:10 into third period (2-1 Columbus)
Oscar Lindberg: 17:24 (2-2 tie)
Kevin Hayes: 17:41 (3-2 Rangers)
Mats Zuccarello: 18:41 (4-2 Rangers)

Yikes. Zuccarello scored two of the Rangers’ goals, while a beauty by Cam Atkinson is likely long forgotten.

This post will be updated if there’s video of that staggering sequence.

Welcome back, Babs: Red Wings chase Bernier

Mike Babcock
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Mike Babcock admitted that there might be a painful transformation as he tries to fix the Toronto Maple Leafs.

His old friends made that abundantly, painfully clear on Friday.

As of this writing, the Detroit Red Wings are up 4-0 on the Buds. Justin Abdelkader just completed a hat trick with James Reimer in net, so the subplot isn’t just about Jonathan Bernier having another tough start.

The big story might just be Detroit’s varied new line of Abdelkader, Dylan Larkin (who scored his first career goal) and Henrik Zetterberg. At the moment, they’ve combined for seven points.

This post will be updated if Detroit’s tribute video to Babcock surfaces.

Really, though, this beating has been about as ugly as this blanket so far.

Here’s video of Abdelkader’s hat trick: