Maybe it was the adrenaline of playing in his first game in 320 days. Maybe it was playing against the struggling Islanders. Maybe it was playing against a 4th string goaltender that had recently been called up from the American Hockey League. Whatever it was, the stars aligned for Sidney Crosby to return to the NHL in a made-for-TV setting. He looked like he hadn’t missed a single day.
Most people thought the true test would come in the following games. How would he play against better competition? How would he play in the second, third, and fourth games back when the adrenaline was gone and the grind started to set in?
That’s when reality sets in. That’s when he doesn’t step on the ice, score four points, and make a mockery of the best league in the world.
Tonight’s 3-2 overtime loss to the St. Louis Blues was the first step for the Penguins playing with Crosby for the rest of the season. On Wednesday night, he played 18:41, had three minor penalties, and finished the game with a plus 1 rating. Not exactly the same storybook comeback game as he had against the Islanders. But then again, most people didn’t expect that on a nightly basis.
The next game for the Penguins is Friday evening against the Senators before they hit the road for a 4-game road trip. By the time the team returns to Pittsburgh for their date against the Boston Bruins on December 5th, we should have a better idea of where Crosby will be for the rest of the season.
Just a hunch, but he’ll probably be pretty good.