We were told that Sidney Crosby was only supposed to miss a couple of games because the player and the team wanted to err on the side of caution. First it was a two-game mini road trip that he was supposed to miss. Then it was announced by the Penguins that he’d be out “indefinitely,” but he was still on their roster to return as soon as he felt like he like he was ready to go. Then there was today’s news.
Does this mean that he’s going to be out for an extended period of time? Not necessarily. The main reason that the Penguins would put Crosby on IR would be so it creates a roster spot for a forward that is able to play; Jason Williams for example. However, it makes one wonder if the team is preparing for a longer absence when they reach to the AHL affiliate for reinforcements.
Crosby had been playing well since initially coming back from the concussion he suffered in January. He managed to rack up 12 points in only eight games–including four points in his first game back against the New York Islanders on November 21.
At first, Crosby was just taking a few games off as a precautionary measure because he “didn’t feel right.” Now the team is bringing in someone to replace him on the roster while things get sorted. It’s a significant step.
The Pens superstar has already been scratched in four games since being sidelined. The strong Penguins have had a 1-3 record over the recent stretch, but they’ve been dealing with injuries to Kris Letang, Jordan Staal, and Zbynek Michalek among others; and now Paul Martin is out with a lower-body injury.
But far more important than any short-term success (or failure) for the Penguins is the long-term recovery for the face of the league. It’s hard to look at this most recent development as good news for anyone.
Blues challenging for the lead in Central Division
It was only a month ago when the St. Louis Blues were floundering through the 2011-12 season. The team was sitting with a lackluster 6-7-0 record and they were coming off a boring 2-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild—their third loss in four games. They had the worst power play in the league and looked like a mediocre team that was headed for a mediocre season. Fans expected much more from the team that was sitting in the 14th spot in the Western Conference.
Since Hitchcock took over the head coaching duties from Davis Payne, the Blues have gone on an 11-2-3 streak to springboard the team up the standings. They’ve gone from a team that was on the outside of the playoff hunt to a team that is only a single point behind the Chicago Blackhawks for the lead in the Central Division. They’ve used an 11-3-1 record at home and have become one of the best 5-on-5 teams in the league. Yeah, they’ve been pretty good.
Then there are games like Saturdays contest against the San Jose Sharks when they prove that they can win in different ways. The 1-0 win over the Sharks featured a power play goal from Kevin Shattenkirk to deliver the victory for the Blues. How dangerous will this team be when they figure out how to consistently score on with the man advantage?
No matter which way you cut it, the Blues can thank their defense and goaltending for their success this season. The team is leading the league with a 2.03 goals against average this season. Even more impressively, they’ve only give up 1.50 goals per game in the 16 games since Ken Hitchcock took over the team. Brian Elliott has come out of nowhere and is leading the league in goals against average (1.45) and save percentage (.947) among goaltenders with more than two starts this season. The 12-2-0 record isn’t too bad either.
The success has been a long time coming. For the last few season, the Blues have been a team that looked like they were on the edge of turning the corner. With Hitchcock installing his coaching his philosophy and adding a little life to the locker room, the team is starting to fulfill their potential. But are they good enough to compete with the likes of the Blackhawks and Red Wings for the Central Division crown?
PHT Morning Skate: Will there be changes in Los Angeles?
PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.
Is it time for a shake-up in Los Angeles? If so, is it time for a trade a coaching change to get things rolling? (LA Times)
It seems like everyone has an opinion on the Colorado Avalanche’s recent struggles. Apparently, “everyone” includes backup goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere. (Denver Post)
Highlight reel goals. Crushing body checks. Big time fights. Any way you cut it, Nick Foligno is becoming a well-rounded weapon for the Senators. (Ottawa Sun)
Zdeno Chara was forced to leave about halfway through the Bruins/Blue Jackets game on Saturday night due to the dreaded “lower body injury.” Boston can’t be excited about the possibility of life without their captain for any extended period of time. (CSN New England)
Do you want to see a Mike Fisher vs. Bobby Ryan mini-fight followed by Carrie Underwood’s reaction? Of course you do! (NY Times)
Not everyone thinks the current realignment proposal is perfect. Preserving divisional rivals is great, but what about those rivalries that have developed within the same conference over the past two decades? (Boston Herald)
The Minnesota Wild were the first team to 40 points. They were the first to 20 wins. Yet still, the players want more. As Head Coach Mike Yeo says, “winners are never satisfied.” (Star Tribune)
Chris Chelios will be inducted to the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday. At least he retired in time to be inducted before his 50th birthday. (Buffalo News)
A pair of NHLers are gearing up for Team Canada at this year’s World Junior Championships. Like they’re not strong enough already. (QMI Agency)
Spin-o-ramas are so November. Check out as Ryan Callahan starts a spin move and changes his mind after 180 degrees. Not a bad shorthanded goal from the Rangers captain. (NHL.com)
Giroux leaves game early after taking knee in head from teammate
Just when the Flyers thought things couldn’t get any worse on the injury front, the hits just keep on coming. This time, offensive catalyst and early Hart Trophy contender Claude Giroux took an accidental knee to the side of the head by teammate Wayne Simmonds. Obviously, friendly fire isn’t all that friendly.
The play occurred near the end of the second period of Saturday night’s game in Philadelphia between the Flyers and Lightning. Giroux headed straight to the bench after the accidental collision and promptly received medical attention from the training staff. He eventually was forced to the locker room before the period came to a conclusion.
As if Giroux leaving the bench wasn’t bad enough, Flyers fans really had reason to worry when the superstar wasn’t able to return to the bench for the third period. If he had gone to the “quiet room” for 10 minutes and everything went well, he would have been able to return by the start of the final frame. Since he wasn’t able to answer the bell, well…
Fans in the Wells Fargo Center took note as well when they saw their team return to the ice for the third period. All eyes were on the bench looking for No. 28 to exit the tunnel and return to the bench. When he didn’t, reality started to settle in that Giroux, Chris Pronger, and Brayden Schenn could all be sidelined at the same time with concussions.
Obviously the organization will be cautious with the recent concussion problems on the roster. Something to remember when a player takes a rough shot to the head is that even if he returns, it’s something that could linger for days before it’s properly diagnosed. Remember, this wouldn’t be the first time Giroux suffered a concussion– he’s already gone through the ordeal back in 2009.
As if losing Giroux wasn’t enough, Ilya Bryzgalov headed to the bench in the middle of the third period. If the Flyers didn’t have bad luck, they wouldn’t have any luck at all.
Not all body checks that lead to concussions are illegal hits. For anyone who was wondering the difference, Nick Foligno lit up Cody Hodgson in the first period of the Canucks/Sens game on Saturday night. Hodgson corrals the puck and starts up the boards in his own zone and makes the unfortunate decision to cut towards the middle. Instead of finding open ice, Hodgson found a huge piece of a Nick Foligno check.
The Sens forward delivers a perfectly clean check. He keeps his elbow down and stays on his feet as he drives through Hodgson. There’s contact with the head, but only because Hodgson is bending over and makes a late turn into Foligno. Hopefully Andy Sutton was watching and taking notes.
Hodgson was clearly dazed, struggled to find his balance on his feet, and had to be helped to the bench. It was quickly announced that he would not return to the game.
On the ensuing shift, Canucks forward Dale Weise went straight towards Foligno to make him answer for the huge check on a skilled player. Foligno obliged, they dropped the gloves, and settled business. Much respect to Weise for standing up for his teammate; much respect to Foligno for taking a challenger that is doing his job.
(Update: It continued to be a memorable night for Foligno. Midway through the second period, he hit Ryan Kesler almost the same spot in the ice and was given boarding call… and a 10-minute misconduct for his vocal disagreement with the call.)