Author: James O'Brien

Sidney Crosby

Let’s nitpick Sidney Crosby’s slow start


The responsible, reasonable thing is not to make a big deal out of two games. Not when the Pittsburgh Penguins have 80 more.

What about the fun thing, though?

After two games, the Pittsburgh Penguins have zero standings points, two losses and a single goal (by Phil Kessel).

When you’re not getting production from an entire team, everyone deserves some blame. Sports talk doesn’t always work that way, though, which is why the Hockey Internet is gaping in awe at Sidney Crosby‘s meek start.

Goals don’t go around very often in the extremely tight-checking NHL, so many times one can point out that a cold player is getting his chances. Crosby’s been unusually quiet even in that regard, with zero shots in those first two games.

Just notice how rare that is for Crosby, even taking into account that he may still lean a bit toward passing.

Is he just missing the net, though? Well …

Crosby is rarely an interesting quote, so it’s not surprising that his take might as well have been taken from @BoringMonahan:

… But at least he’s not in denial.

Let’s not forget that the Penguins boast plenty of other talented players, so to some extent, it might come down to finding the right mix. Evgeni Malkin saw a different linemate in David Perron as the Sergei Plotnikov experiment was placed on hold, for instance.

It’s early, and both the team and Crosby can make adjustments. There’s at least one that seems pretty obvious:

The Penguins must stew on these problems for some time, as they won’t play again until they begin a five-game homestand by hosting the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday.

Maybe Crosby just needs some home-cooking?

The NHL’s new coach’s challenge and timeouts

Alain Vigneault

For better or worse, NFL coaches often get critiqued for the way they challenge plays, with a big reason being that they may waste potentially precious timeouts.

NHL coaches only have one to work with per game, and with the new challenge system in mind, the New York Post’s Larry Brooks points out how that is changing a subtle-if-important coaching strategy.

How many bench bosses will take a time out earlier in a game, knowing that doing so will mean they lose their challenge option? Specifically, this comes into question when a coach would otherwise rest winded players on an icing call.

“You’d have to have five guys out there for such an extended period of time to call one, and even then, it would be an extremely difficult call,” Alain Vigneault told Brooks. “If you know that they have nothing in the tank, then you might have no other choice. … But I don’t know. … You don’t want to lose that [ability to] challenge.”

There’s already an example or two of coaches being thrifty with their single timeout per contest.

Brooks poses a fairly simple and logical tweak, then:

The league could — and I would suggest probably should — amend the rule so each team is given one challenge opportunity plus one timeout. Yes this likely would add another 1:30 or so to the game, but chances are icings will be followed by delaying tactics that only will frustrate everyone.

What do you think? Should the NHL stick with the current setup or adjust it based on Brooks’ suggestion?

Flyers players had a ‘little talk’ after Panthers blowout

Steve Mason

What do you say when your team gets blown out 7-1 in your second game of the season?

For the Philadelphia Flyers, the answer is: plenty of things, especially behind closed doors. shares some interesting quotes following that shellacking at the hands of the Florida Panthers, ranging from Jakub Voracek saying a bad word to Steve Mason taking the blame and Dave Hakstol trying to downplay the defeat.

“The one thing that is absolute is that nobody is going to overreact,” Hakstol said. “You take this situation and deal with it for what it is. Deal with it honestly. Most of those dealings will take place in the locker room.”

Special request: let some of the juicy stuff surface publicly. It will be fun, we promise.

The Flyers won’t need to wait long to try to avenge that drubbing on Saturday, as they host the Panthers in Philly on Monday.

Not to overreact, but many will call for a passionate response from the Flyers tomorrow.

More on last night’s game here.