Author: James O'Brien

Crosby, Penguins aren’t used to scoring woes like these


The bad news is that Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins have really hit a brick wall scoring-wise lately.

One might argue that the good news is that these problems are cropping up in February instead of, say, April or May.

That doesn’t take away from the plain fact that things haven’t been going well for the star player or his team, at least offensively.

Crosby, 27, only has one assist in his last five games. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review points out that Crosby is averaging career-lows in points per game (1.13) and goals per contest (.33) and has failed to score a point in 19 out of 46 games this season. To give you some perspective, Crosby averages .48 goals per game and 1.38 points per contest in his NHL career.

It’s probably harsh to beat up on Crosby for still averaging a point every contest, but the Penguins are built around top-end offense, even with a renewed emphasis on depth.

The Tribune-Review also points out that Pittsburgh’s 2.9 goals per game is its worst average since drafting Crosby. He told the newspaper that it’s not all bad to hit some bumps in the road, though.

“A little bit of adversity isn’t a bad thing,” Crosby said. “We need to handle things the right way. This will be a big trip for us. We need to be consistent.

Injuries have certainly been a factor, but let’s face it: this team has had to roll with those punches for years now. Things have been troubling since the winter holidays, as they’re now 6-8-4 since Dec. 22. The more immediate struggles are most glaring (they’ve only scored two goals in their last three games), yet overall the Penguins are searching for answers.

They face a big test, which Crosby alluded to in that quote. They begin a three-game road trip through Western Canada by facing the Oilers in Edmonton tonight and also play five of their next six away from Pittsburgh.

In other words, it’s good that Crosby is welcoming some adversity, because it looks the Penguins will face some more.

NHL on NBCSN: Rangers host red-hot Bruins on Rivalry Night

New York Rangers v Boston Bruins

NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign when the New York Rangers host the Boston Bruins at Madison Square Garden at 8:00 p.m. ET today. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game and pre-show online.

It wasn’t pretty during significant stretches of the 2014-15 season, but the Boston Bruins are looking like the Bruins team many expected to be one of the East’s top squads once again. The New York Rangers had their own issues before righting the ship this season, so tonight’s game stands as a nice gauge of where each franchise is as of early February.

Tuukka Rask stands out the most during Boston’s bombastic run.

The Finnish goalie is a big reason why Boston is 8-1-1 in its past 10 games. The 27-year-old has only allowed three goals once since Jan. 4. He finished last month with a brilliant .949 save percentage that strongly implies that he’s back to his Vezina form after some rare stumbles.

The Rangers really aren’t that far behind the Bruins, especially if you look back to early December.

New York is 18-5-0 in its past 23 contests, and while the Rangers are currently ranked third in the Metropolitan Division, they can take a slim lead if they win the two games they have in hand on the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins.

Even after taking a puck to the throat, Henrik Lundqvist was game enough to help the Rangers beat the Florida Panthers on Monday. Both the Rangers and Bruins are currently on two-game winning streaks.

Milan Lucic is expected to shake off his flu-like symptoms and play, so Boston should be close to full strength. The Rangers hope to see Rick Nash & Co. stay sharp even against elite competition in the likes of Patrice Bergeron.

Boston took a Jan. 15 match between the two teams by a score of 3-0, so we’ll see if the Rangers get a little revenge or if the Bruins continue to strengthen their hold on a wildcard spot.

Video: Mike Green sends Kyle Clifford into Caps’ bench


If you needed to summarize the Washington Capitals’ 4-0 win against the Los Angeles Kings, you could throw out various stats or just point to the score.

Then again, you could also just say the game was a lot like defenseman Mike Green’s check on Kyle Clifford, which sent the big forward crashing into John Carlson’s lap on the Caps’ bench:

Green collected his 27th assist (and 32nd point) of the 2014-15 season and was credited with three hits last night. One obviously stood out the most.