It was the Sidney Crosby show for Canada


The 2015-16 campaign was a tale of two different seasons for Sidney Crosby.

There was the first season — the bad one — that covered the first 20 games where he had only 11 points and wasn’t even one of the top 120 scorers in the NHL.

It was at this point that his status as the NHL’s best player was questioned (it shouldn’t have been) and there was an endless “what’s wrong with Sidney Crosby” debate going on.

Then there was the second season — the good one! — that covered the remaining 62 games of the regular season where he had 74 points and was the leading scorer in the NHL during that stretch. He continued that level of play in the playoffs by playing a dominant two-way game and winning the Conn Smythe Trophy to help the Pittsburgh Penguins win their fourth Stanley Cup in franchise history, and the second of the Crosby era.

That Sidney Crosby showed up on Saturday night in Canada’s 6-0 win over the Czech Republic in their 2016 World Cup opener.

Crosby only played 13 minutes in the win, but he made the most of those minutes, scoring a goal, adding two assists, recording five shots on goal and finishing as a plus-4. He was, quite simply, the best player on the ice every time he took a shift.

He spent most of his night on a line with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron, a trio that was dominant throughout the pre-tournament games and overwhelmed the Czech Republic on Saturday.

All three players scored a goal in the first period, with Crosby opening the scoring mid-way through the period from below the goal line. This is the angle he scored from.

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 17: Sidney Crosby #87 of Team Canada scores at 8:26 of the first period against Michal Neuvirth #30 of Team Czech Republic during the World Cup of Hockey tournament at the Air Canada Centre on September 17, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON – SEPTEMBER 17: Sidney Crosby #87 of Team Canada scores at 8:26 of the first period against Michal Neuvirth #30 of Team Czech Republic during the World Cup of Hockey tournament at the Air Canada Centre on September 17, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

He assisted on Marchand’s goal later in the period and was also on the ice for Bergeron’s buzzer-beating goal to close out the period.

He completed his scoring when he set up Joe Thornton‘s second period goal with this incredible backhand pass through the slot.

When it comes to a full 82-game NHL schedule you probably should not expect Crosby to consistently score like he did four or five years ago, simply because he isn’t in his mid-20s anymore, the age where players tend to score at their peak levels. But he is still the best player in the game and is still going to have games like he had on Saturday where he not only takes over and dominates, but puts a bunch of points on the board.

Canada already has the best roster in the tournament on paper. When they also have the best player in hockey playing at the level he was at on Saturday, it is going to make them extremely difficult to beat.

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

Ilya Mikheyev
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

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Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

caufield surgery
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MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

“I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

matty beniers
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SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.